San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan Courts Tout ‘Faceless Judges’

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – The interior minister in this violence-plagued Central American nation has suggested use of judges whose identity remains secret as a means to more effectively fight organized crime.


Carlos Vielman, whose ministry is in charge of police and public security, made the recommendation in an interview with the Guatemala City daily Siglo Veintiuno. Under the notorious 1982-1983 dictatorship of Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt,


Guatemala had “courts of special jurisdiction” in which masked judges heard and decided cases against alleged rapists, murderers and leftist rebels.


According to the interior minister, while the most immediate threat to residents of poor areas is from the kind of offenses associated with youth gangs, the root cause of the growth in lawlessness is organized crime: groups involved in large-scale drug smuggling and people trafficking.


Vielman said the scourge can only be confronted if Guatemala replaces the uncoordinated efforts of various executive and judicial entities with a comprehensive and integrated state policy.


He pointed out that turf wars among gangs and drug cartels have contributed directly to the increase in murders and other violent crimes.


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