The United States accused the Guatemalan government this Sunday of “weakening” the country’s judicial system and trying to “obstruct investigations into corruption” with its request that the immunity of Guatemalan judge Erika Aifán is withdrawn.
Last Thursday, the Public Ministry of Guatemala announced that it had requested a withdrawal of immunity against Aifán, in a high-impact case that analyzes the rigging in the election of the Supreme Court of Justice between 2019 and 2020.
The request “is a blatant attempt to obstruct corruption investigations and an affront to the integrity of the highest-ranking courts in Guatemala,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
“The independence of judges to review cases and issue sentences free from the threat of retaliation or outside influence is fundamental to the rule of law,” Price stressed.
“This action against an independent and internationally recognized judge weakens a vital pillar of Guatemala’s democracy and judicial system,” he added.
The spokesman recalled that last year, Aifán was awarded the Woman of Courage international prize, awarded by the US Department of State, “for her efforts to strengthen the rule of law in Guatemala.”
Judge Aifán, head of the High-Risk Court “D”, intermediate phase, denounced last year that she has been the victim of spurious proceedings against her, with cases without legal basis and that have remained in force but immobile in various tax agencies for at least nine years.
Together with other judges, Aifán asked the Guatemalan attorney general, Consuelo Porras, to dismiss the complaints against him, which are used as a pretext for harassment and cyberbullying, coupled with surveillance on public roads and persecution, inside and outside of the country. public institutions.
Relations between the United States and Guatemala cooled down last September when Washington sanctioned the Guatemalan attorney general precisely for accusing her of obstructing justice in high-impact cases.
President Joe Biden did not invite his Guatemalan counterpart, Alejandro Giammattei, nor the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador to a virtual summit on democracy he organized in December.
Last week, US Vice President Kamala Harris phoned Giammattei and asked him to ensure “that corrupt actors are held accountable, stressing that corruption erodes public trust and undermines the ability to govern effectively and responsibly,” according to the White House.