A UN expert Friday called recent legal charges and proceedings against a former Guatemalan judge and prosecutor “an attack on the rule of law.” UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers Margaret Satterthwaite raised concerns over “irregularities” in the case of former anti-corruption prosecutor Virginia Laparra Rivas and former judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez.
Satterthwaite, international rights scholar and attorney, called on Guatemalan authorities to protect individuals in the legal field from “attacks and reprisals for their work or because of their gender.”
Satterthwaite remarked that Laparra’s legal proceedings are rife with due process violations, including excessive use of pretrial detention.
Laparra is facing charges stemming from her work as a prosecutor in Quetzaltenango. Guatemalan officials first arrested Laparra on February 23, but an additional charges were filed in October as well. The second arrest warrant accused Laparra of revealing confidential and reserved information under article 67 of the Law on Access to Public Information.
Satterthwaite also referred to former judge Gálvez’s pre-trial proceedings to revoke his judicial immunity. Satterthwaite is concerned that “the criminal law is being abused to target civil servants and justice officials.” Gálvez served as a judge for over two decades. This past May, Gálvez ruled that various police and military personnel would stand trial for crimes against humanity in the Military Diary case.