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IACHR Press Office
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) rejects the suspension of
the Semilla party’s legal status. The Commission urges the State of Guatemala to
respect the results of the recent general election as the highest possible
expression of popular sovereignty, and to strictly adhere to the principles of
representative democracy and human rights.
On August 28, Guatemala’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) announced the official results of the country’s presidential election runoff, where Semilla party candidates Bernardo Arévalo and Karin Herrera were elected to become president and vice-president.
However, the TSE’s Citizen Registry said on the same day that the legal status of the Semilla party was being suspended. The Citizen Registry said it was acting in compliance with a warrant issued on July 12 by the Seventh Investigative Criminal Court, in the context of a criminal investigation conducted by the Special Prosecutor to Fight Corruption of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. On August 30, the Board of Directors of the Guatemalan Congress announced that the Semilla party’s bloc of legislators had been dissolved and that its legislators were to be considered independent.
The IACHR notes with concern that the decision to suspend the Semilla party’s legal status violates the temporary protection granted to the party by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court. The suspension appears to seek to prevent the president-elect, the vice-president-elect, and other elected officials from taking office. The suspension also appears to have been issued without the grounding and due process required by the Elections and Political Parties Act, which might entail an arbitrary restriction of freedom of association and political rights.
These events have happened amid countless unlawful actions and tampering with the electoral process, using the justice system as an instrument and abusing the lack of independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office. Among other recent reports, the IACHR was informed on August 23 of the launch by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of pretrial proceedings against TSE magistrates Irma Elizabeth Palencia and Mynor Custodio Franco, as well as surrogate magistrate Álvaro Ricardo Cordón, for their poor performances and for allegedly issuing resolutions that violated the Guatemalan constitution.
The State of Guatemala informed the IACHR that the provisional suspension of the legal status of the Movimiento Semilla party constitutes a precautionary measure (medida precautoria) issued in a judicial proceeding in accordance with article 82 of the Law against Organized Crime; and that said party can make use of the corresponding legal resources. The State also indicated that at no time is the will of the population expressed in the officialization of the results of the second round issued by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal being violated.
In compliance with the obligations that emerge from Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights and from the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the State of Guatemala must respect these free and fair elections whose results express the sovereign will of the people, one of the fundamental tenets of representative democracy.
The Commission notes that the Guatemalan President has recognized the results of these elections and expressed his willingness to launch an “orderly, transparent, and efficient” transition of power with the authorities who have been elected, with the support of the Organization of American States (OAS). The IACHR therefore urges the State to stop eroding the credibility of these elections and to take concrete action to effectively implement the President’s message.
The Commission stresses the State’s obligation to take all measures necessary to protect the personal safety and the rights to life and personal integrity of the country’s president-elect and the vice-president-elect, in compliance with the precautionary measures that were granted by the IACHR in their favor on August 24.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.