Sunday, July 29, 2007

¿Comisión contra la Impunidad, sí o no?

The Los Angeles Times reports that establishment of a Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala "hangs in the balance" as legislators mull whether to go forward or "scrap" the plan.
Agreement between the Guatemalan government and the United Nations was reached 7 months ago at U.N. Headquarters in New York. It would set up an International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, through which U.N.-selected commissioners would work for 2 years. In December the Guatemalan newspaper Prensa Libre reported that "among its functions would be to determine the existence in Guatemala of illegal security forces and clandestine apparati, in order to promote criminal punishment."
The plan has the support not only of the United Nations, but also of the United States. Within Guatemala, supporters include representatives of the Supreme Court, prosecutor's office, and civil society. Among them is the sister of Guatemalan anthropologist Myrna Mack Chang, who, as Human Rights First reported, was killed in 1990 after having "been stalked for two weeks prior to her death by a military death squad" that'd "targeted her in retaliation for her pioneering field work on the destruction of rural indigenous communities." Helen Mack (right), who's fought for more than a decade to bring to justice those responsible for her sister's death, told Prensa Libre in December that establishment of the Commission would be "a step toward breaking up those criminal organizations that have infiltrated the State and that foment impunity and undermine the rule of law."
But opposition was evident even at the time the agreement was reached: Members of Congress were "skeptical," and 1 attorney told Prensa Libre that the delegation of prosecutorial authority to a foreign body was unconstitutional. That depletion-of-sovereignty argument persuaded "a key congressional committee" to oppose the Commission, the Times reports. (That vote drew criticism from the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chair, Patrick Leahy.) On Wednesday, Guatemala's full legislature will consider the plan.

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