Guatemala: Presidential Proposal for Constitutional Reform under Discussion


Representatives from different sectors are in favor of changes in the election of judges to the CSJ.

With the government’s forthcoming installation of the constitutional reform table, the sectors that are convened will begin discussing the proposed changes to the Constitution on the election of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice.

During a meeting held on Friday at the Presidential House, in which President Alejandro Giammattei was present, lawyer Omar Barrios presented to different sectors the project of constitutional reform to the justice sector.

The proposal is aimed at everything from the installation of the judicial career to the appointment of the judges of the Appeals Chambers.

Each nominating group would elect a magistrate for four years, one for a period of seven, and one for 10 years. In addition, re-election would be allowed, but only by different electoral body.

The Chamber of Administrative Affairs is added, and the Criminal, Civil, and Amparos chambers are maintained. The election of the president of the Supreme Court of Justice would take place in the first session, but if it is not achieved, he would assume the oldest collegiate, and at the age of 80 there will be compulsory retirement.

According to the proposal, to be elected magistrate of the Appeals Chamber, the professional must be 10 years as a judge of first instance or 10 years of professional practice. Three-quarters of all magistrates must come from a judicial career.

Advocating for socialization

The president of the Association of Research and Social Studies (Assisi), Raquel Zelaya, stated that the consortium Universidad Rafael Landívar, University of San Carlos and the entity he chairs has already had about 12 years of proposing the amendment to the Constitution in relation to the reform of the justice sector.

“The syllary they present is interesting, it is positive that they are socialized, they expand the number of judges and the time in office, their form of nomination. From the proposal a table for discussion will be installed and one assumes that when Congress receives it it would also consult civil society. A popular consultation is planned for March next year,” Zelaya explained.

He added that the constitutional reform process and its discussion would take time, and when socializing, something positive was expected to achieve a good outcome, leading to the popular consultation.

“There was no talk of whether or not it was time for reform, the proposal is timeless and has its positive aspects. We have 12 years in the consortium to get to the consultation. Constitutional reform is a pending agenda that cannot be evaded and time-consuming, cannot be done forcibly,” he emphasized.

“As much as one defends good deans and rectors, and trade union delegates who played a good role, it was not possible to avoid the politicization of commissions, and then, continuing with that scheme is going to be complicated. I don’t see what the problem would be with the new way of appointing Supreme Court justices,” Zelaya said.

The rector of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala (Usac), Murphy Paiz, said: “From every point of view we have maintained the position that there must be a reform, because the issue is already flawed. In the last elections of magistrates the commissions have not had a positive assessment.”

He added: “Constitutional reform to the justice sector must be done. The topic should be further analyzed, socialized and evaluated to reach the best model, and when the conditions are met you can go to the consultation. The issue of reform needs to be talked about; I am not from the position that covid-19 should not make progress.”

He added that something new about the proposal is that six deans of the law schools of private universities and usac will elect three judges, but will be attended by university deans who are already more than 10 years old of graduating lawyers.

“It was also argued that the election process in Congress is not 100 percent guaranteed, because a candidate has already resigned, the brother of Deputy Jairo Flores, so they mention that there are no longer 26 and, apart from the report sent by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, there are 22 professionals presenting cases in the MP,” said the rector of Usac.

“In theory there will be a return to normality, so there could be a vote of the popular consultation. The reform is conditional on consultation,” he added.

The director of the Institute of Teaching for Sustainable Development (Iepades), Carmen Rosa de León Escribano, commented that there was talk of the installation of four working tables, and one of them is that of constitutional reform to the justice sector, and that the proposal will be public.

The proposal envisages the form of the election of judges and who would nominate.

“We must make progress in reform, discussing it at the table, and that first we will start with the reform and then changes to the Executive on other issues. Whether or not it is time to discuss it at the table, and that the election of judges should be done in the context of the constitutional court’s ruling,” he said. He added that there was no talk of deadlines because it is not known how long a process takes.

They deny entry to the solicitor

The human rights prosecutor, Jordan Rhodes, complained that he was not allowed to join the meeting, even though he had been invited for 15 days.

The magistrate of conscience considers that President Alejandro Giammattei shows an arrogant attitude because he has criticized him. “I made recommendations, but if you want only the people who want to applaud you, I’m not going to lend myself to that, because I recommended that you dismiss the health minister,” she said.  (


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