Dall’Anese is known for leading the major anti-corruption investigations against former Costa Rican presidents Rafael Ángel Calderón (1990-1994) and Miguel Ángel Rodríguez (1998-2002). He has acknowledged the achievements of CICIG, yet stressed the importance of Guatemalans being involved in the fight against impunity. According to political analyst Carmen Ortiz, CICIG faces challenges in safeguarding the independence of the judicial system and maintaining its credibility among civil society—particularly during the upcoming 2011 presidential campaign in Guatemala.
After former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was captured in January 2010 due to ties to embezzlement and money laundering, an aggressive campaign to damage the reputation of CICIG began in Guatemala. The attacks against CICIG were seen as a response from criminal organizations threatened by its successful investigations. Every year, there are approximately six thousand homicides reported in Guatemala with only two percent reaching the attention of the judicial system. After decades of attacks against human rights defenders, social movements and NGOs, such as Human Rights First, launched an initiative to persuade the Guatemalan government to establish a commission to investigate the countless cases which public officials failed to prosecute.
In turn, the Guatemalan government reached out to the UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) for assistance in developing an institution to overcome these challenges of impunity. On August 1, 2007, after five years of negotiations, the Guatemalan Congress approved the UN-Guatemala Agreement on the Establishment of CICIG. CICIG became the independent body supporting the Public Prosecutors Office, the National Civilian Police, and other State institutions in the investigation of cases with the intention to prove the operations of illegal security groups and clandestine security organizations, while working towards the dismantling of these groups.
By confirmation of extension by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in April 2009, CICIG will be effective in Guatemala until September 4, 2011 and includes three principle objectives:
1) Investigate the existence of illicit security forces and clandestine security organizations, and identify the illegal group structures, activities, modes of operation and sources of financing
2) Support the work of Guatemalan institutions, principally the Attorney General, in his work to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in illegal groups. Additionally, encourage the adoption of new public policies, mechanisms, and procedures directed at the eradication of these groups and strengthening the State’s capacity to protect the basic human rights of its citizens
3) Provide technical assistance to Justice Sector institutions, leaving the Public Prosecutors Office and National Civilian Police better equipped to fight organized crime
Head of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA), Claudia Samayoa, stated that “if CICIG does its work, it will eventually touch on those structures [illegal bodies and clandestine structures] embedded in the political parties and security forces.” Samayoa expressed that sentences have been handed down in over one-hundred cases as a result of “the good work of Guatemalans employed by the justice system who found a way to carry out their work thanks to what CICIG is doing.”
SIF supports The Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) in its analogous efforts to promote reform of Central America’s national justice systems and facilitating dialogue and studies about the effectiveness of criminal prosecutions in the region. For example, on November 5-6, 2007, DPLF held a meeting in Washington D.C. to bring together experts on transitional justice and reparations mechanisms to discuss the current conditions of the victims of violent crimes by illegal organizations in Guatemala and Chile. In conjunction, DPLF released a case study on Chile and Guatemala noting the scarcity of studies measuring the effectiveness of programs addressing human rights violations and criminal prosecution. Katya Salazar (Executive Director, DPLF) will be presenting results of a recent study regarding judicial independence in the region at SIF’s learning conference in San Jose, Costa Rica December 1-3, 2010.