Guatemala: Advance bill on national prosecution of ICC crimes


Global civil society is this month calling on Guatemala to advance national legislation to end impunity for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. Add your voice to our petition urging Guatemala to join the fight for global justice now.

Guatemala is the focus of the Coalition’s Campaign for Global Justice this month. The long-running campaign calls on countries around the world to join the ICC and adopt national laws to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.


“The implementation process in Guatemala has been a thorough and meticulous one, and has brought together a number of diverse actors who have worked towards an integral implementation bill,” said Sandino Asturias, director of the Centro de Estudios de Guatemala (CEG), and chair of the Guatemala Coalition for the ICC. “In order to fully apply the Rome Statute within the Guatemalan domestic system, lawmakers must approve the Rome Statute implementation bill (initiative Nº 4998), which will grant us higher standards in the fight against sexual violence; allow us to criminalize Rome Statute crimes accordingly; and will incorporate crimes such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, which are currently absent from our legal system. In addition, the approval of an ICC bill will be crucial in the establishment of national cooperation mechanisms with the ICC. Ultimately, the implementation of the Rome Statute within the Guatemalan domestic system represents a unique opportunity for the new nation that we are building today.”

“The full implementation of the Rome Statute within the Guatemalan domestic system will allow the country to consolidate its commitment to international justice. With the adoption of Rome Statute crimes, as well as with provisions on ICC cooperation, Guatemala will be able to exercise its national jurisdiction on a primary basis vis-à-vis the ICC, in light of the principle of complementarity,” said Michelle Reyes Milk, regional coordinator for the Americas for the Coalition for the International Criminal Court. “In other words, once the implementation process is completed, were any future cases to arise in Guatemala involving ICC crimes, these may be investigated and prosecuted by Guatemalan judges in Guatemalan courts.”

Following the accession of Guatemala to the Rome Statute – the founding treaty of the ICC- in April 2012, Guatemala embarked quickly on a thorough process of adapting and implementing the Rome Statute into domestic legislation.

By doing so, it reaffirmed the important commitment to international justice already demonstrated by after its accession to the Rome Statute. This commitment has also been shown by Guatemalan domestic courts through several high profile cases that are being followed concerning crimes against international law.

Guatemalan civil society has played a pivotal role in the promotion and development of implementation legislation. Various civil society organizations, under the umbrella of the Guatemalan Coalition for the ICC and with the leadership of the ‘Centro de Estudios de Guatemala’ (CEG), set up preliminary round tables that brought together various governmental and legislative actors, as well as national and international experts on international justice.

This lead to the formal submission of bill 4998 on November 16, 2015, introduced by MP Oliverio García Rodas, after three years of arduous work by several governmental and non-governmental representatives. However, bill 4998 is currently awaiting its inclusion into the agenda of a specific committee prior to a submission to the Plenary.