Paz y Paz Exclusion from Guatemala AG List Raises Impunity Fears

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Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz has been excluded from the final shortlist of candidates vying to be Guatemala’s next attorney general, a move many rights groups say is politically motivated and represents a victory for impunity.

Paz y Paz’s exclusion was confirmed after only four of 14 members of the commission charged with selecting the final six candidates voted for her, reported Siglo21. The shortlist — whittled down from an original list of 26 candidates — will now be submitted to President Otto Perez Molina, who will make the final selection.

The decision comes after Paz y Paz — whose term as attorney general was recently controversially cut short — received the second highest ranking of the 26 candidates in an assessment of their suitability based on academic, professional and personal capabilities, reported Prensa Libre. Paz y Paz was among only three candidates to score above 51 assessment points. The other two top rankers were included in the final six.

Her exclusion from the shortlist caused indignation among rights groups and independent observers. Ex-President Alvaro Colom branded it “clear manipulation,” while Induvina Hernandez of NGO Seguridad en Democracia said it confirmed the existence of a “pact for impunity.” Meanwhile, Diego Alvarez from the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) questioned the fact that the results of the prior assessment appeared to have had little bearing on the shortlist.

InSight Crime Analysis

Since taking up the role of Attorney General in 2010, Paz y Paz has won international plaudits for her aggressive attack on organized crime and corruption, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

Yet in February, the country’s constitutional court ruled she would have to step down in May — seven months earlier than scheduled — based on a technicality. The decision attracted widespread criticism, and triggered accusations the country’s powerful elite had engineered her ousting.

SEE ALSO: Guatemala: The War of Paz y Paz

Corruption and organized crime links go right to the upper echelons of Guatemalan society, with criminal networks such as the Illegal Clandestine Security Apparatuses (CIACS) heavily linked to the country’s elites. Other trafficking groups, such as the Mendozas and Lorenzanas, are also known to maintain powerful political allies in their areas of operation.

The decision to exclude Paz y Paz from the shortlist has sealed her fate, and will likely continue to be seen as one of several serious blows to the battle against impunity. The mandate of the CICIG — which has been credited for its unrelenting pursuit of the CIACS — is also being terminated next year.

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