UN, EU blast weakening of Guatemala anti-corruption efforts

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GUATEMALA CITY — The United Nations and the European Union have condemned attacks on prosecutors and the weakening of anti-corruption efforts in Guatemala.

Volker Turk, who heads the U.N.’s human rights office, criticized the Guatemalan government for the charges it brought against former prosecutors and whistleblowers like Virginia Laparra.

“The judicial branch is being undermined and judicial authorities continue to be criminalized,” Turk said Tuesday.

Laparra is a former prosecutor who was sentenced last week to four years in prison for abuse of authority, after she accused a judge of leaking sensitive information. A judge ruled she had no authority to report the leaks.

The judge she accused of the leak was given an administrative sanction that was later overturned.

Laparra has said the charges came in retaliation for her work with a U.N. anti-corruption commission whose mandate was ended by the government. Amnesty International has listed Laparra as a prisoner of conscience.

The administration of President Alejandro Giammattei has brought charges against a number of former anti-corruption officials and judges, leading many of them to flee the country.

European Union spokesperson Peter Stano said Monday that Laparra’s conviction is deeply worrying amid a deterioration in the rule of law, continual intimidation, and legal actions against lawyers, independent prosecutors and judges.”

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