HomeNewsBriefNearly All Crimes in Guatemala Go Unpunished: CICIG
BRIEF

Nearly All Crimes in Guatemala Go Unpunished: CICIG

ELITES AND CRIME / 6 APR 2017 BY LEONARDO GOI EN

Only 3 percent of crimes in Guatemala are punished, according to the head of an international anti-corruption body, a statistic that serves as a reminder of the importance of enacting structural reforms in order to improve rule of law in the country.

During an April 3 meeting with the press, the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala – CICIG), Iván Velásquez, said that over 97 percent of crimes in the country remain unpunished, reported Prensa Libre.

Velásquez attributed the widespread impunity to the existence of deep-seated illegal networks seeking to co-opt public institutions.

"This wounded giant, this criminal super-structure, is difficult to eradicate," Velásquez said. "It is something deeply embedded, a strategy designed to keep state institutions working for the benefit of a selected few."

The head of CICIG stressed the need for the commission to support the country's Attorney General Office in the fight against crime. But Guatemala's judiciary system is poorly funded, and the Attorney General's Office only has a presence in 34 of the country's 340 municipalities, Velásquez said.

"Everything [in Guatemala] has been designed so that justice could not work," he remarked.

InSight Crime Analysis

The exorbitant impunity levels described by the head of CICIG show that despite the numerous high-profile cases brought by the Attorney General's Office with the internationally-backed commission's help, major shortcomings remain in Guatemala's judiciary system at large.

Established in 2007 as a United Nations-backed appendage of the Attorney General's Office, CICIG has proved pivotal in uncovering and prosecuting powerful networks of corrupt elites in the country. The most prominent example of this came in 2015, when the Attorney General's Office and CICIG exposed an expansive corruption network involving, among others, then-President Otto Pérez Molina and Vice President Roxana Baldetti, both of whom are now in jail.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala News and Profiles

The achievements of CICIG sparked calls for the creation of similar mechanisms in other countries in Central America struggling with high-level graft, particularly El Salvador and Honduras. However, the fact that nearly all crimes in Guatemala go unpunished is a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done.

Velásquez himself has said as much in the past. 

"For Guatemala to reach impunity levels on a par with rest of the Americas, we would have to wait 10 years; 20 years to achieve levels of Asia and the rest of the world, and 50 years to get to European levels," he said in a November 2015 press conference, while calling for greater investments in the judicial system to help tackle criminality in the country.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 5 SEP 2017

Authorities in Guatemala have released new information on the modus operandi of an international human smuggling network that coordinated…

EL SALVADOR / 26 APR 2016

The lawyers for José Enrique Rais, a prominent El Salvador businessman who US authorities tied to suspected drug planes seized…

ELITES AND CRIME / 27 MAY 2016

Panama's highest court has asked the foreign relations ministry to approve an extradition request for ex-president Ricardo Martinelli, marking a…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.