San Jose and Washington DC, March 3, 2014. The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) expresses its sincerest regret for the death of Dr. César Barrientos Pellecer who passed away on March 2. CEJIL would like to extend its condolences and sympathies to his family and loved ones.
CEJIL’s members had the privilege of working with Dr. Barrientos both academically and professionally and knew the values and principles that characterized his life. Today we remember his legacy, past and invaluable contributions to the fight against impunity in Guatemala.
Dr. Barrientos served as a judge of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Guatemala (Cámara Penal de la Corte Suprema de Justicia de Guatemala). In the exercise of his duties he pushed a series of reforms that sped up the criminal process. In addition, he took steps to guarantee victims greater access to justice in the country. Likewise, Dr. Barrientos was noted for his boundless support for high-risk tribunals, in an effort to guarantee their proper functioning, efficiency and independence. In this vein, he advocated for the safety of and job security for the members of the court.
In relation to the Inter-American Human Rights System, Justice Barrientos was a believer in the importance of the decisions issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. His influence was a determining factor in Guatemala recognizing the auto-enforceability of the Inter-American Court’s judgments. Viviana Krsticevic, CEJIL’s Executive Director, noted that, “thanks to the Criminal Chamber’s decisions, overseen by Dr. Barrientos, many criminal procedures were reopened and several public officials responsible for grave human rights violations were tried. These actions broke the cycle of impunity that characterized Guatemala, giving hope to thousands of people.”
Dr. Barrientos also participated in the drafting of civil procedure codes as well as in the judicial modernization process in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua, transcending Guatemalan frontiers through his judicial and academic legacy.
CEJIL regrets the loss of a man of such integrity, defender of judicial independence and tireless fighter for Central American justice. The organization urges the authorities to conduct the necessary investigations to clarify the events surrounding his death.
“His contributions must serve as inspiration for the present and future generations, who, like him, aspire to construct a solid rule of law in Guatemala, where truth and justice are a reality for all. We respectfully call on the authorities to honor the memory of Judge Barrientos and guarantee administration of justice that is transparent, independent, effective and open to its victims,” stressed Marcia Aguiluz, Program Director for Central America and Mexico.