Weekly Report - 20 May 2021 (WR-21-20)

GUATEMALA: New CC greenlights contentious law

Less than a month after taking up its seats, Guatemala’s new constitutional court (CC) has already sparked controversy. On 12 May it threw out appeals against a contentious law (ley 5257) regulating NGOs, allowing it to take effect. The law previously drew international condemnation, including from the US, for putting “onerous requirements on NGOs in Guatemala, which play a key role in functioning democracies and help to strengthen democratic institutions”. The decision by the CC, the composition of which had already drawn widespread criticism [WR-21-12], has been slammed by civil-society groups and the international community, including the US. It raises further doubts about the future of bilateral relations with the US: in his US$4bn four-year plan for Central America to address the root causes of illegal migration, President Joe Biden is clear on the need to “build more robust domestic institutions” in order to strengthen democracy.

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