[WHRD Alert] GUATEMALA / Claudia González —attorney, human rights defender and former CICIG representative— criminalized and imprisoned for struggling against corruption

On August 28th, Claudia González, an attorney, human rights defender, and former spokesperson of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), was arrested and held in pre-trial detention.  Three weeks later, on Friday, September 22nd, after a long, unjustifiable, and illegal delay in holding her first public hearing, the judge issued a decree linking her to proceedings that cannot be attributed to her, given that Claudia González is not a government official. Moreover, the judge left her in a situation of deprivation of freedom for at least three more months.

It is important to highlight the fact, that at the moment of her arrest, Claudia was acting as the defense lawyer for other justice advocates who, like herself, had been criminalized for having struggled against corruption and impunity in the country.  Their criminalization is part of a strategy of political persecution implemented by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, known as the “Pact of the Corrupt,” which for decades has led to the plunder of the country, the exacerbation of inequalities, racism, corruption, impunity, pillage, and the exploitation of the majority of the population. 

The CICIG headed up by Claudia González was a commission created in December of 2006 by means of an agreement signed between the United Nations and the Guatemalan government and then unilaterally disbanded by the government in September of 2019 after bringing to light numerous cases of corruption and illegal acts by officials at the highest level of the government in complicity with major power groups. Since then, the Guatemalan government has unleashed a campaign of political persecution against former members of the CICIG, the Public Prosecutor’s Anti-corruption Division, and in general, anyone involved in the administration of justice who is not aligned with State interests.  As a result, dozens of justice seekers are now unjustly held prisoner, criminalized, and/or living in exile.

We of IM-Defensoras demand that the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Guatemala grant the immediate release of Claudia Gonzalez and put an end to the judicial persecution and harassment against her and other justice providers, journalists, and women human rights defenders criminalized for struggling against corruption and impunity. In the same vein, we call on the international community to stand in solidarity with her and join in the demand for her freedom.  

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