Our clinic recently joined the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center) and other legal experts in calling on Guatemalan leaders to support Claudia Paz y Paz’s candidacy for Attorney General in Guatemala. The letter was sent to the President of the Supreme Court of Justice, members of the Selection Commission for Attorney General, and the President of the Republic. The full letter can be found below.
April 29, 2014
Justice José Arturo Sierra González
President of the Supreme Court of Justice President of the Selection Commission for Attorney General (Comisión de Postulación, Fiscal General)
Dear Justice Sierra González:
We write in support of Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz’s candidacy for Attorney General and Head of the Public Ministry. As international legal experts, we believe that Dr. Paz y Paz’s record as the current Attorney General demonstrates that she is the ideal candidate to continue strengthening the rule of law in Guatemala.
Since taking up the office of Attorney General in December 2010, Claudia Paz y Paz has received global praise for reducing levels of impunity by almost 30 percent, more than quadrupling the number of corruption convictions, and doubling the number of annual convictions overall. Under her leadership, the Public Ministry has prosecuted important cases dealing with organized crime, money laundering, narco-trafficking, gang violence, and violence against women. Dr. Paz y Paz has also supported transitional justice by leading the groundbreaking case against Efraín Ríos Montt, which was the first-ever prosecution for genocide against a former head of state in his home country.
We commend Dr. Paz y Paz for building public trust and confidence in the Public Ministry by ensuring access to justice for vulnerable communities. For example, Dr. Paz y Paz implemented a new Department for Indigenous Peoples that has coordinated its work with key indigenous authorities. She developed special offices to provide assistance to victims of crime (Oficinas de Atención a la Víctima), with services to address the unique needs of children and survivors of sexual violence.
Dr. Paz y Paz’s career thus far has been exemplary. Her professionalism, independence, and impartiality are widely regarded as unimpeachable. Moreover, the policies and reforms that she has implemented have improved the management, discipline, accountability, and transparency of the Public Ministry.
In accordance with international standards and Guatemalan law, the selection process for Attorney General should be transparent, objective, and merit-based. Dr. Paz y Paz’s record demonstrates and exceeds all aspects of professional excellence as defined by the Selection Commission Law (Ley de Comisiones de Postulacion): capacity, expertise, competence, honesty, and established reputation.
In addition, we believe that re-appointing Dr. Paz y Paz will be vital to ensuring the integrity of the Guatemalan justice system. If Dr. Paz y Paz is forced out of her post despite her superb record, this would deter future Attorneys General and other prosecutors from acting independently and enacting reforms. In the wake of the contentious legal proceedings that have led to the selection process taking place earlier than anticipated, it is important that the selection commission send a strong message that the independence of the Public Ministry is respected and supported at all levels of government.
Based on the foregoing reasons, we call upon the members of the Selection Commission (Comisión de Postulación) to recommend Dr. Paz y Paz for a second term.