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(Washington, DC) – The Guatemalan Human Rights Watch and the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) said today that the attorney general’s office’s arbitrary criminal proceedings against a presidential candidate are a threat to free and fair elections.

On March 20, 2023, the Special Prosecutor, Rafael Curuciche, against impunity said that His office asked the Supreme Court to investigate him for “obstruction of justice” for stripping the center-right candidate, Edmond Mullett, of immunity after he publicly criticized judge’s decisionNine journalists and filed for investigation on February 28 a criminal complaint against the judge. The investigation against journalists relates to his coverage of criminal proceedings against José Rubén Zamora, a journalist. in jail since july 2022 under charges of alleged money laundering.

“Instead of closing an abusive investigation against independent journalists doing their job, Guatemala’s attorney general’s office is investigating a presidential candidate who opposed the investigation,” he said. juan papier, acting deputy Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “These criminal proceedings have no basis and are part of a wider effort to undermine the fairness of the upcoming elections.”

respective governments, including latin america, europe And this United States of americaPublicly condemn the authorities’ repeated attempts to arbitrarily exclude presidential candidates, including on outrageous and clearly politically motivated criminal charges.

US State Department has issued Sanctions against Curruchiche as corrupt and undemocratic. He too Asked The Electoral Tribunal barred Mullet’s presidential candidacy, alleging that he had violated the prohibition under Guatemalan law of campaigning before the electoral process had officially begun.

Candidates often violate the law regarding campaigning outside the election period. Electoral tribunal officials usually fine them and rarely bar them from contesting elections. Guatemalan authorities should ensure that any charges resulting from alleged violations of campaign rules are proportionate to the violation and applied equally to all candidates.

The Electoral Tribunal has in recent weeks effectively banned Indigenous left-wing leader Thelma Cabrera and right-wing candidate Roberto Arzu dropped out of the presidential race. These decisions are based on questionable grounds, threaten political rights, and must be reviewed immediately.

International observers, including the European Union and the Organization of American States (OAS), should thoroughly investigate the electoral conditions, including the boycott of candidates and the use of fake criminal charges against them, and pressure the Guatemalan authorities to respect democratic values .

The United States and relevant governments, including those in Europe and Latin America, should closely monitor the electoral process, express concern over attempts to block presidential candidates, and publicly call for free and fair elections. He should also call on Guatemalan authorities to investigate allegations of illegal financing of political campaigns, including by businessmen and organized crime.

“As the Guatemalan authorities increase their efforts to oust presidential candidates, the international community must urgently step up its efforts to protect the country’s democracy,” said Ana Maria Mendez, director of Central America at WOLA- Dardon said.

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