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August 14, 2023

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith Re: Criminalization of anti-corruption lawyers in Guatemala

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2023 — The American Bar Association is deeply disturbed by the criminalization of lawyers, judges, journalists and human rights defenders who have investigated and prosecuted corruption and human rights abuses in Guatemala.

These attacks have had a corrosive impact on the independence of Guatemala’s judiciary and harmed unprecedented cases against high-level state actors for acts of corruption and human rights violations. Protection for the independence of lawyers is a norm enshrined in the Guatemalan Constitution, Interamerican Court precedent and United Nations Basic Principles, and trends in Guatemala raise concern that such guarantees are being violated systematically.

As the largest voluntary professional association of lawyers in the world, the ABA calls on the Public Ministry of Guatemala to cease the unlawful persecution of judges, prosecutors, journalists, human rights defenders and Indigenous leaders who are being targeted for their anti-corruption work or their efforts to provide legal representation to those facing criminalization. It calls on the government of Guatemala to investigate these attacks and provide remedies for those impacted.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews.