Guatemalan Constitutional Court Defends UN Anti-Corruption Commission, Reprimands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

President Jimmy Morales’ administration is hot water again after another attempt to force the head of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, Iván Velásquez, in Guatemala out of the country.

On October 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, known as Minex in Guatemala, revoked Commissioner Velásquez’s visa. In the letter, Minex says “The reason for the revocation is that the visa application was not made by the person competent for the purpose, as has happened on previous occasions.”

The official agreement between the United Nations and the Guatemalan government reiterates the Commissioners status under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which grants him or her immunity.

In a letter dated October 17 and signed by the vice minister of Foreign Affairs, Alicia Castillo, Commissioner Velásquez is warned to avoid “interfering in internal affairs of the country.”

The letter goes on to say that while the privileges and immunities “do not exempt him from the obligation to respect the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala and the laws of the State, as well as to abstain from interfering in internal affairs while in Guatemalan territory. ”

In response, the Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that the Minister and Vice-Minister had to retract their statements made in the letter within 12 hours. If they failed to do so, the Court warned that it would order President Morales to “proceed to the dismissal of Sandra Erica Jovel Polanco as Foreign Minister and Alicia Virginia Castillo Sosa as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

The Court based its decision on article 50 of the Protection Law, which gives the Court the authority to enforce its rulings including forcing the dismissal of officials who disobey the Court.

Minex responded to the Court’s opinion, saying in a statement that the earlier letter was “not intended to limit, interfere or condition the actions of the Commission, according to its mandate.”

The statement concluded: “The Government of the Republic of Guatemala reiterates its unrestricted commitment to transparency, the integral development of the country, the frontal fight against corruption, impunity and criminality, demonstrated by the strengthening of institutions in the security and justice sector.”

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