Guatemala: UN expert concerned by proceedings against Judge Carlos Giovanni Ruano
14 July 2023
GENEVA (14 July 2023) – A UN expert today expressed serious concern about information received regarding proceedings against Judge Carlos Giovanni Ruano, aimed at lifting his immunity, which may amount to retaliation for his official work on a corruption case.
“A fundamental principle of judicial independence is that judges should not be subject to criminal or disciplinary action for carrying out their duties,” said Margaret Satterthwaite, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers.
Judge Carlos Giovanni Ruano is facing pre-trial proceedings for his role in exposing a magistrate who attempted to put pressure on him in a case involving a relative. “These proceedings concerning Judge Ruano seek to withdraw the protection from undue prosecution that all judges enjoy. This immunity is essential to the judicial function, since it protects judges from undue influence or intimidation,” Satterthwaite said.
The Special Rapporteur expressed grave concern about the pattern of criminal proceedings against judicial officials as a result of their work in cases of corruption or human rights violations in Guatemala. She stressed that this case appears to be the latest in a series of similar cases targeting judges and prosecutors and urged the authorities to take urgent measures to ensure their protection.
“The criminal law is being abused to target justice officials, the very people who protect and guarantee human rights, those who are strengthening the rule of law and making great strides in the fight against impunity in the country,” the expert said.
Satterthwaite urged authorities to take measures to ensure that individual judges, prosecutors, and other judicial officials are not subject to attacks and reprisals for their work.
The Special Rapporteur has been in contact with the Government of Guatemala regarding this issue.
*The expert: Ms. Margaret Satterthwaite, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers. She was appointed as United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers by the Human Rights Council in October 2022. Professor Satterthwaite is an international human rights scholar and practitioner with decades of experience in the field. She is a Professor of Clinical Law at New York University School of Law.
The Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.