Press releases Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Guatemala: UN Human Rights Chief concerned at attempts to undermine electoral process
27 July 2023
GENEVA (27 July 2023) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Thursday expressed deep concern at attempts to undermine the electoral process in Guatemala, which could result in the will of the voters not being respected.
After reviewing the preliminary results of the first round of the presidential elections, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal confirmed that candidates from the Semilla and UNE parties would compete in the second round on 20 August.
Following the confirmation of the results on 12 July, the Office of the Attorney-General and a first instance judge requested that the Semilla party be suspended over alleged irregularities in how it was set up. A day later, the Constitutional Court provisionally ruled that Semilla could participate in the runoff.
Subsequently, the Office of the Attorney-General carried out search and seizure operations at the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, at the Office of the Civil Registrar, and at the Semilla party’s headquarters. Arrest warrants against two founders of the Semilla party and against the deputy director of the Office of the Civil Registrar were also issued.
There are concerns over the compatibility of these actions with international human rights law and the rule of law.
The High Commissioner reiterated the crucial call by the UN Secretary-General against any coercion, arbitrary or unlawful interference with voting processes and electoral rules. Türk specifically asked the authorities to ensure that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the Office of the Civil Registrar are able to work independently and free from any undue interference.
“The authorities must ensure the integrity of the electoral process and respect for the will of the voters, as expressed on 25 June,” said the UN Human Rights Chief.
“Free and fair elections and the separation of powers are key to maintaining the rule of law and are the basis of a democracy that protects and promotes human rights,” he added.
“Demonstrations in the past few weeks have been peaceful but I am concerned about the increasing levels of distrust and polarization in Guatemalan society. I urge the authorities to continue to guarantee people’s right to express their grievances,” the High Commissioner said.