Guatemala City, May 2, 2014. The signing regional and international organizations express their concern for the inconsistencies and irregularities observed during the selection process of the Attorney General in Guatemala. In light of international standards, the inconsistencies and irregularities could also be a serious violation of the rule of law. The importance of respecting the principles of transparency and objectivity in the rest of the Attorney General selection process should be reiterated.
The signing organizations have supported strengthening democracy in Guatemala for many years. Therefore, it is their obligation to note that for a democratic rule of law to exist, it is essential for the members of the main bodies of the judicial system to elect the most capable and suitable professionals. This is only possible through a transparent selection process based on the merits of the candidates.
In this sense, it is extremely concerning that the Nominating Committee (Comisión de Postulación, CP), appointed to nominate only six candidates for the Attorney General position and did not thoroughly investigate the faults of various candidates presented by diverse sectors of society. It also did not verify the information presented by the candidates and did not analyze the integrity of the candidates.
It is shocking and strange that in concluding the analysis of the candidates, the Committee did not nominate the current Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz, as a running candidate even though she obtained the second best evaluation. This shows that their decision was unreasoned.
Article 23 of the American Convention on Human Rights establishes the right of citizens, “to have access, under general conditions of equality, to the public service of his country.” In accordance with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IA Court), in order for this right to be effective, the criteria and procedures for nomination, promotion, suspension and destitution should be reasonable and objective. Considering this criteria, it is evident that whichever selection process that does not take into account the best scored candidates lacks required objectivity. This circumstance could imply that the affected candidate is being discriminated against.
Although the organizations recognize that the Nominating Committee established the grounds to allow the process to be observed, such actions are insufficient in guaranteeing transparency if the final decisions do not follow the previously stated objective criteria and if there is no public reasoning to justify them. In the present situation, the organizations have determined that a serious violation concerning the principle of transparency has been committed, which leads to the conclusion that the final proposed selection of candidates was based upon considerations other than merit.
Given that the Nominating Committee has presented the proposed candidates to President Otto Pérez Molina, the organizations consider that it is the President’s responsibility to correct the oversights that have been observed and to ask CP to give a reasoned explanation to justify the nomination of the candidates as well as to explain the reason for excluding the candidate that held the second best score.
In addition, once the above concerns have been clarified, the President should name the person that fulfills the conditions of suitability and competence to exercise the position in an independent manner.
The organizations urge the authorities of the Guatemalan State to take all necessary measures to maintain the advances that have been made by the Public Prosecutor over the last 3 years, and support all efforts that involve breaking the context of impunity in the country.
Lastly, the organizations join the Guatemalan civil society organizations in their concern for the necessity to initiate, as soon as possible, a reflection process on the current model of nominating committees for nominating high-level positions within the judicial system. The organizations offer themselves to serve the Guatemalan society by adding their knowledge from similar situations as well as in International Public Law, with the only objective to aid in the construction of a more solid democracy.