Guatemala top court halts deportation of UN anti-corruption official

Guatemala top court halts deportation of UN anti-corruption official

The Guatemalan Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended President Jimmy Morales’ [official twitter] order to deport the head of a UN anti-corruption commission from the country. The order came from the president two days after Ivan Velasquez, the Colombian prosecutor who leads Guatemala’s International Commission against Impunity [official website], announced his pursuit to lift Morales’ immunity from prosecution in order to investigate alleged illegal campaign financing. The Supreme Court quickly halted the deportation, stating [AP report] that the order was issued improperly. The UN stated that it was disturbed [Reuters report] by Morales’ actions against Velasquez. Citizens, in protest of Morales, declared a state of siege in the capital, and the US ambassador to Guatemala Todd Robinson [official website] stated that the president’s moves could put at risk a US development plan in Central America to reduce poverty and crime.

Guatemala has a history of political scandal. Former president Otto Pérez Molina and ex-vice president Roxana Baldetti were accused [JURIST report] of taking nearly 130 million in bribes in the beginning of 2011 by Guatemalan Attorney General Thelma Aldana. In August 2015 the Guatemalan Supreme Court approved [JURIST report] prosecutors’ requests to impeach Molina after he announced his intent to not resign after the scandal broke. In October, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] welcomed a draft bill [JURIST report] on constitutional justice reforms in the Guatemala legislature, which “represents an historic opportunity to consolidate the remarkable progress the country has achieved in the fight against impunity and corruption in recent years.” In June a Guatemalan judge who served as general secretary for Guatemala’s soccer federation pled guilty [JURIST report] to fraud and conspiracy in the FIFA scandal.