One of Guatemala’s top anti-corruption judges resigned and fled from the country amid threats related to her work.
Judge Erika Aifan, 46, resigned from her post on March 21 morning after learning that the Guatemalan Supreme Court was planning to strip her of her judicial immunity and could send her to prison.
“I faced accusations, threats and pressure… Today I have decided to resign from my post because I do not have sufficient guarantees of protection for my life and my integrity, nor the possibility of defending myself with due process,” Aifan said in a video on Twitter.
For six years, Aifan was in charge of the High Risk Court, which was specialized in handling high-stakes criminal cases.
Aifan was recently in charge of collecting witness testimony alleging that Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei received illicit money to fund his 2019 campaign.
Aifan also said that the “Parallel Commissions” case, which involved attempts to influence judiciary, was one of the cases that intensified social media campaigns against her.
Aifan fled to Washington, but said that she was still unsure if she will apply for asylum in the United States or in another country.
Aifan is currently staying at a friend’s guestroom, according to The Washington Post.
Human Rights Watch said that Aifan’s departure was a blow to the judicial system in Guatemala.
Aifan’s departure brings the number of justice operators to have fled Guatemala in the last 11 months to 15, according to Salvadoran newspaper El Faro.
“The resignation of the judge is a heavy blow to those who defend the rule of law. The U.S. and the European Union should impose sanctions on those who attempted against their independence. We can’t let the corrupt get away with it,” HRW researcher John Pappier said.
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