Secretary-General welcomes Guatemalan approval of body to probe armed groups

1 August 2007 –

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has applauded today’s decision by the Guatemalan legislature to approve an independent body to investigate the presence and activities of illegal armed groups in the Central American country.

The Guatemalan Congress voted to establish the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (known by its Spanish acronym, CICIG) as a matter of urgency.

Mr. Ban “believes Guatemala has sent a clear message, both to its people and to the international community, that it is committed to fight crime and impunity, and to provide security for its citizens,” his spokesperson said in a statement.

Under the terms of an agreement between the Guatemalan Government and the United Nations, the world body and the country will now work closely together with judicial authorities in Guatemala to set up CICIG.

The Commission will be able to conduct its own investigations and also help local institutions, particularly the Office of the Public Prosecutor. While it will be an independent, non-UN body, its commissioner will be appointed by the Secretary-General and report periodically to him.

One of its tasks is to recommend public policies and any legal or institutional measures for eradicating the illegal armed groups and preventing their re-emergence. The costs are expected to be borne by voluntary contributions from the international community.

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