On March 7, 2014 the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ruled to end Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz’s term seven months prior to the December end of term date. Paz y Paz will now leave the role in May.
The Court has based their controversial decision on the Guatemalan constitution that they have interpreted to consider Paz y Paz’s term a fill-in assignment, rather than a full-term appointment. According to the Court, Paz y Paz has been serving out the remainder of a four-year term that began in May 2010 with the previous Attorney General, Arnulfo Conrado Reyes. The Court dismissed Conrado on charges of corruption and appointed Paz y Paz in December 2010.
The Court’s decision comes as a serious blow to the credibility of Guatemala’s justice system. The Court’s failure to respect the Guatemalan Constitution – which mandates a four-year term for the Attorney General – has raised serious concerns of corruption amongst international observers.
In a statement to the Court, Paz y Paz expressed “What is at stake here is not whether I continue in office for seven [more] months. It is not my term as a person; it is a constitutional term. What is at stake here is the validity of the constitution, the rule of law, democracy in Guatemala.” Paz y Paz has applied to be re-considered for the role.
Throughout her term Paz y Paz has been instrumental to shattering impunity in Guatemala. She has worked tirelessly to ensure perpetrators of mass human rights atrocities face accountability and justice for their crimes – including building the case against former President Efraín Ríos Montt.