Secretary General Ban Urges Guatemala to Support UN-Backed Crime Probe After Chief Resigns

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–8 June 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on Guatemalan authorities to fully support the work of the United Nations-backed commission tasked with dismantling illegal armed groups and fighting impunity in the Central American country after the body’s chief resigned.

Carlos Castresana announced yesterday that he will leave the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), where he has served as Commissioner since its inception in 2007.

Mr. Ban “greatly appreciates the work” of Mr. Castresana, the Secretary-General’s spokesperson said in a statement issued last night.

“He and his staff have worked courageously for more than two and half years so that Guatemalans can have a justice system that defends and protects them,” the statement added.

“CICIG is a groundbreaking initiative whose investigations and prosecutions are stirring hope in Guatemala that impunity can be defeated.”

The UN and the Guatemalan Government set up CICIG as an independent body to support the public prosecutors’ office, the national civilian police and other institutions to investigate a limited number of sensitive and difficult cases regarding illegal security groups and clandestine security organizations and also dismantle them. Based in Guatemala City, the capital, the commission seeks to bolster the rule of law and is permitted by its mandate to conduct independent investigations and help authorities bring representative cases to trial in national courts.

Mr. Ban stressed in his statement that the success of the commission “requires that the international commitment be matched by an equal commitment on the part of the national authorities.

“The Secretary-General expresses his hope that critical policy recommendations of CICIG will be implemented soon, and that the Government ensures that key positions in the justice sector are filled with qualified candidates.

“The United Nations is strongly committed to the success of CICIG, and calls for a determined effort by national authorities to take full advantage of the assistance it can provide during the remaining period of its mandate.”

The statement noted that Mr. Ban plans to appoint a replacement for Mr. Castresana who can build on the progress made so far.