Thursday, January 29, 2015

The persecution of Claudia Escobar


Note: Even though this post is off topic, I think that the levels of corruption and impunity in countries like Guatemala are relevant to the 'climate justice' and governance debate in relation to geoengineering. Those goverments, bodies and actors that are and would be in charge of safeguarding the interests of their own countries seem to be highly corruptible, enhancing even more the risks dangers to their already vulnerable populations.

Disclosure: Judge Claudia Escobar, the subject of this article is my cousin.
O.E.

Last update March 12, 2016
Below article.



The persecution of Claudia Escobar



By Juan Luis Font - Revista ContraPoder (Jan. 27, 2015) 
(Translated by Oscar Escobar)


The day that the then Judge at the Court of Appeals decided to resign to the position for which she had just been elected she was aware of the risks confronting her.


One of the likely scenarios was persecution for daring to challenge the corrupt model subjected to the political interests of those who dominate the State that defines the integration of the highest courts of the country. That scenario materialized very soon.


First, Escobar faced difficulties to return to the court in Mixco, which she left to become an appeals court judge.  A court in which incidentally in the past she had to deal with threats from gangsters after administering justice honestly.


When she finally managed to be reinstated, she began to hear of the likely actions against her. The most crucial of all: the possibility of being expelled from the judiciary body under serious allegations of misconduct and violation of internal rules that would have made it impossible for her to occupy the judiciary.


Escobar, who in her hopes has that of fighting to ensure Guatemalans with independent judges and magistrates, understood the need to leave her post to avoid those consequences.


However, her request for a leave of absence was rejected. At least two other requests for a leave of absence for reasons of academic studies were also denied. And it was not until the third time that her requested permission was finally granted by the current President of the Court. Given the risk that the plenary of judges would revoked it to punish and expel her, she chose to leave the country in a hurry.


Escobar, despite those who suspect her for daring to highlight the corruption in the postulation model, does not depart to live better. She was forced to leave the country with all her children to avoid disastrous consequences in her career.


Hers is a modern case of voluntary exile, which underlines the vulnerability of someone who does not agree to the perversion of the dominant system.


The pity of that decision is to confirm the solitude of her struggle.  She leaves fast and in silence. The academia, to which she belongs, turned its back on her. The ‘La Universidad Marroquín’, from which she graduated and ‘La Universidad Landivar, whose faculty she has been a part of, far from backing her up, distanced themselves with some even vilifying her efforts.



The country’s most worthy judge has no place at this moment in the national justice system.



Update March 12, 2016


2015 saw months long nationwide anti-corruption protests in Guatemala, sparked by Judge Claudia Escobar's brave actions. These protests led to the resignation, investigation and eventual jailing of many public officials and, both, the country's vice president Roxana Baldetti and later-on the President himself Otto Perez Molina; who was arrested on corruption charges just hours after resigning from office.


In the later part of 2015, judge Escobar received a Scholars at Risk fellowship at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard University where she "is pursuing a research project on how corruption is directly linked to the lack of judicial independence".

In March 9, 2016; the ex-president of the Guatemalan Congress, Gudy Rivera was arrested on charges of 'influence peddling' and 'passive bribery' for offering Judge Escobar her re-election in exchange for a favorable judicial outcome in a case involving the then Vice President Roxana Baldetti.





Other readings (for update)

Independent Mind
http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/10/independent-mind/

Former legislative leader detained in Guatemala bribe case

http://www.heraldonline.com/news/nation-world/world/article64965907.html


Other Readings (for main article):


The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces
The International Security Sector Advisory Team
Guatemala Country Profile
Last updated:  16/01/2015


Despite the significant reforms of the mid-1990s, Guatemala’s legal system is still among the worst in Latin America thanks to endemic corruption, inefficiency and impunity. The rate of impunity is estimated to be around 90 percent, and may even be as high as 98 percent for some crimes (notably homicide) with only 2 out of 100 cases making it to court. On top of this, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala-CICIG), a United Nations-backed judicial body that works with the government to investigate and prosecute serious crimes, released a report in November 2012 identifying 18 Guatemalan judges that it said had issued rulings favourable to the interests of organised crime.”




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