With more than a dozen suspects awaiting extradition to other countries, the director of the United Nations-backed anti-impunity body in Guatemala publicly criticized the country’s slow and bureaucratic extradition process.
ElPeriodico reports that 18 individuals in Guatemala who are currently facing extradition orders from other countries have seen little progress in their cases, despite the fact that many of them have been in custody for months. This list includes ex-President Alfonso Portillo and high-profile drug dealers like Waldemar Lorenzana and Walther Overdick, all three of whom are wanted in the United States.
The Guatemalan daily cites Francisco Dall’Anese (pictured), head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), as saying that the problem lies in the red tape, paperwork and endless appeals associated with the process, which is endorsed by the Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz.
“We have to work together in order to reduce our response time to criminal activity,” Dall’Anese told ElPeriodico. “Extradition orders are processed here like they were in the 19th century.” Paz y Paz, for her part, has reportedly maintained that the lengthy legal procedures are enshrined in international treaties, and cannot be avoided.
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Dall’Anese was likely referring to the use of a legal tool known as the “amparo,” by which defense lawyers can claim that their constitutional rights are being violated, often postponing extradition indefinitely.
Still, his calls for Guatemala to speed up its extradition process are surprising coming from an official whose job it is to promote the development of a strong and independent judiciary in the country. As InSight Crime has pointed out, extradition can be a crutch to a developing judicial system like Guatemala’s, and it has the potential to reinforce domestic impunity.