Constitutional Court judge Hector Hugo Perez

Guatemala's Constitutional Court has deemed the selection of more than 100 judges to the country's Supreme Court and appellate courts was made legally, despite widespread criticism that the process was influenced by shady figures operating among the country's political elites. 

The Constitutional Court suspended the swearing in of the selected judges in order to review appeals presented by civil society organizations in October, which called for the nullification of the process. However, on November 20 the court rejected the appeals, citing a lack of convincing evidence or arguments, reported EFE.

According to an official document explaining the decision, the Guatemalan Congress complied with its legal duty of electing the judges by political consensus, based on the list of nominees given to them by the country's postulation commissions, reported elPeriodico. 

The Constitutional Court judge who oversaw the review process leading up to the final decision, Hector Hugo Perez, was the one judge who had voted against the initial suspension of the election process, elPeriodico reported earlier this month

The new Supreme Court judges will be sworn into office in the coming days, according to El Periodico.

InSight Crime Analysis

The Constitutional Court's decision will be a disappointing one, if not surprising, for both Guatemalan civil society organizations and international observers who have spoken out against corruption in the judicial selection process. One representative of a US-based NGO that promotes legal due process told EFE the ruling was "a disaster" for judicial independence in Guatemala.

As previously reported by InSight Crime, the postulation commissions responsible for drawing up the initial list of candidates for Congress to choose from are heavily influenced by special interests. The final congressional selection process is also politically motivated, since it is in the interests of corrupt politicians to maintain friendly judges in the high courts. Following the most recent selections, one appellate court judge resigned in protest of what she called a "perverse" process.

SEE ALSO: Coverage of Judicial Reform

Guatemala has a long history of impunity for the country's elites, and those who have attempted to change things have rarely had their way. Guatemala's former Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz earned international acclaim for her work, which included winning the conviction of former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt on genocide charges. However, the Constitutional Court soon overturned the decision, and Paz y Paz has since been persecuted in Guatemala for her efforts. 

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

How the MS13 Got Its Foothold in Transnational Drug Trafficking

Throughout the continent, the debate on whether or not the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) gang is working with or for drug traffickers continues. In this investigation, journalist Carlos García tells the story of how a member of the MS13 entered the methamphetamine distribution business under the powerful auspices...

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Guatemala's Mafia State and the Case of Mauricio López Bonilla

Former Guatemalan Interior Minister Mauricio López Bonilla -- a decorated war hero and a longtime US ally -- finds himself treading water amidst a flurry of accusations about corruption and his connections to drug traffickers. López Bonilla is not the most well-known suspect in the cases against...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador Prisons and the Battle for the MS13’s Soul

El Salvador's prison system is the headquarters of the country's largest gangs. It is also where one of these gangs, the MS13, is fighting amongst itself for control of the organization.

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The Prison Dilemma: Latin America’s Incubators of Organized Crime

The prison system in Latin America and the Caribbean has become a prime incubator for organized crime. This overview -- the first of six reports on prison systems that we produced after a year-long investigation -- traces the origins and maps the consequences of the problem, including...