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OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Guatemala Remains Alert to New Judicial Actions of the Public Ministry and Calls for Guarantees for Adequate Working Conditions for the TSE

  August 23, 2023

The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) expresses its concern about the new actions announced by the Public Ministry (PM) of Guatemala, which has requested information from the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) on members of polling stations, members of the electoral review body, and the coordinators of data entry and voting centers for the elections of June 25 and August 20.

The OAS Mission learned of the Ministry's request to withdraw the preliminary hearing against the TSE’s Director of the General Registry of Citizens for alleged crimes of abuse of authority and breach of duty.

As the OAS Mission expressed yesterday in its preliminary report, the democratic stability of Guatemala has been under "intense and constant pressure," with "interventions by different actors who sought to ignore, delay, or reverse the officialization of results; intimidate the electoral bodies and the technical personnel hired for the process, misinform and plant doubts in the population where there were no reasons for suspicion, and in general, delegitimize and erode the democratic process.”

This situation, as the Mission has pointed out on multiple occasions as well as in the Preliminary Report, has generated "an environment of confusion and legal uncertainty." Similarly, as OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro stated in his report to the Organization’s Permanent Council, "the TSE cannot be harassed." It is crucial that the personnel that work in the Tribunal be able to carry out the activities corresponding to the electoral process without intimidation or undue interference.

The OAS Mission reiterates that the extreme judicialization of the process has put democracy in Guatemala at risk, which the citizens of this country do not deserve. On Sunday, August 20, the people of Guatemala have clearly and forcefully expressed their decision at the polls. This is an indisputable fact.

It is important to bear in mind that, within the framework of the powers granted by the country's legislation, the actions of all judicial authorities must be carried out without abuse of authority. It is essential that all judicial proceedings respect constitutional guarantees and are framed within good international legal practices, such as impartiality and objectivity. Likewise, any proceedings must have clear legal support, pursue a legitimate purpose, and meet the requirements of suitability, necessity, and proportionality, in accordance with the standards established by inter-American jurisprudence.

For the OAS Mission -and above all for Guatemalan democracy- it is essential that the popular will, as freely expressed by citizens with absolute conviction at the polls, be respected. In this sense, the Mission once again recognizes the willingness of the President of the Republic to initiate the transition process with the President-elect and to call on the OAS to accompany this process. The commitment made between President Alejandro Giammattei and President-elect Bernardo Arévalo to meet the day after the results are made official is a positive sign that should not be tarnished by actions contrary to democracy.

The OAS Mission remains deployed and continues to follow the electoral process, currently observing the official vote count review hearings in the Departmental Electoral Boards and will continue to monitor the development of any legal actions.

Reference: E-047/23