Türk concerned at sustained attempts to undermine electoral process in Guatemala
On Friday, the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) -which operates under the Office of the Attorney General - raided the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s (TSE) headquarters.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Sunday expressed deep concern at the sustained measures, including actions by judicial authorities, which appear to be taken to undermine the outcome of the electoral process in Guatemala.
On Friday, the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (FECI) -which operates under the Office of the Attorney General - raided the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s (TSE) headquarters. The raid was requested by the seventh criminal judge, who ordered seizing the official lists certifying the results of August presidential elections. This was the fourth raid undertaken at the TSE headquarters in the post-electoral context.
The Office of the Attorney General is also pursuing the lifting of immunity of TSE magistrates for allegedly committing crimes of fraud, breach of duty and abuse of authority.
There are serious concerns over the compatibility of these actions with international human rights law, as well as with the Guatemalan Constitution and national legislation.
“These events are the latest in a long list of very worrying actions taken in the last few weeks, which -taken together- appear designed to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and undercut the rule of law more generally,” said Türk. “Reports of harassment and intimidation against electoral officers and elected officials, including the President elect and Vice-President elect, are especially disturbing.”
“I call on all Guatemalan authorities to refrain from any further attempt to challenge the will of the popular vote.”
Reports also indicate that some of the one hundred police officers carrying out the raid used unnecessary force with TSE judges and hindered the work of the journalists covering the event.
Given the tense situation in the country, the Human Rights Chief expressed concern about the risk of violence. He called for the right to peaceful assembly to be fully respected.
Türk also echoed the UN Secretary-General’s concerns regarding the harassment and criminal proceedings against former officials of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), for activities relating to their work investigating and prosecuting corruption cases. The High Commissioner recalled the crucial contribution of the CICIG in the fight against corruption and impunity, and called on authorities to cease any reprisals or acts of intimidation against its former staff.
“I urge all authorities to respect the rule of law and safeguard democracy,” he said.