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IDB supports justice reform in Guatemala to fight impunity

A $60 million loan requested by the government of Guatemala and approved by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will help the Attorney General's office fight impunity.

The goal of the project is to increase the office's efficiency in processing complaints that it receives and bring about court trials for the crimes with the highest social impact. This will be done through the department making better use of the resources at its disposal, improvements in how prosecutors present complaints for courts to consider, and a shorter waiting time for people who have asked the Attorney General's office for information.

Only two percent of complaints received by the Attorney General's Office end up in guilty verdicts, according to the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. This indicates that the probability of being put on trial in Guatemala is low, contributing to high crime rates turning into a vicious circle. Many violent crimes in Guatemala are not reported to criminal justice authorities because people think it is pointless.

The program calls for reworking the internal organs of the Attorney General's Office, a purging of backlogged cases, greater automation to speed up the registry of some common complaints (such as loss or theft of cell phones), and better human resources management and training, among other steps.

The plan also aims for improvements in the use of statistics to support decision-making in several areas within the Attorney General's Office.

The program will finance an expansion of the current headquarters of the office to ease physical crowding and move the criminal investigation unit closer to prosecutors' offices, and also pay for studies of victimization and perception at the national level so as to assess people's trust in the justice system in Guatemala. Also, the system for managing cases will be overhauled, particularly for child abuse and violence against women in the prosecutor's office for the Jalapa district.

Among other desired effects, the program aims to increase the number of sentences achieved per prosecutor per year from three to five over the course of five years and reduce processing time. One objective over these five years, for instance, is to cut from 307 to 200 the average number of days that transpire from the time a complaint is received in cases of crimes against minors to the issuance of a request for a formal indictment.

The loan has an amortization period of 25 years and an interest rate based on LIBOR. Overall, the operation seeks to streamline judicial cases involving corruption that are presently underway, thereby supporting the country's policy of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption.

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The Inter-American Development Bank is devoted to improving lives. Established in 1959, the IDB is a leading source of long-term financing for economic, social and institutional development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The IDB also conducts cutting-edge research and provides policy advice, technical assistance and training to public and private sector clients throughout the region.