GUATEMALA CITY/WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (Reuters) – Senior U.S. government officials expressed concern about Guatemalan judges and prosecutors who handle corruption and human rights cases on Tuesday, but the Guatemalan administration dismissed the criticism as unfounded.
Ned Price, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, criticised Guatemala’s hardline President Alejandro Giammattei for imprisoning anti-corruption judges and prosecutors while also ordering others to leave the Central American nation.
At a briefing, Price stressed that upholding due process for all citizens, including judges, prosecutors, and journalists, was crucial to citizen confidence in the justice system. “The United States is alarmed by the continued pattern of actions against judges and prosecutors in Guatemala who handle anti-corruption and human rights cases,” Price said.
Attorney General Maria Consuelo Porras’ office, which is in charge of prosecuting cases in Guatemala, declared that it “categorically denies” Price’s assertion.
The office said on Twitter that the U.S. official “lacked awareness of the Guatemalan legal system,” adding that it was autonomous and scrupulously adhered to national laws.
Porras was singled out for obstructing corruption investigations through arrests and other measures on a list of dishonest and anti-democratic people released by the U.S. State Department last year.
Porras’ administration claimed at the time that it would not submit to any pressure or meddling from Washington.
Reporting was done by Enrique Garcia in Guatemala City and Simon Lewis in Washington. Brendan O’Brien contributed additional reporting. Arshad Mohammed wrote the article. Bradley Perrett edited it.