In a statement released on April 7 the Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation denounced the Honour Tribunal of the Guatemalan Bar Association’s decision to suspend Judge Yassmín Barrios.
“The decision to suspend Judge Barrios is no more than a blatant violation of the legal institutions and rule of law in our country,” stated the Foundation, “This is one of the lurid strategies used by those who wish to continue controlling the justice system so that crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity remain shrouded in impunity.”
The Tribunal has suspended Judge Barrios from her professional duties for one year, as well as fined her Q 5040. The Tribunal also ordered the Public Ministry to investigate her for wrongdoing. The decision was made based on a complaint brought against Barrios by Moises Galindo, a member of the defense team during the Ríos Montt genocide trial. Galindo argued that he was “humiliated” by Judge Barrios during court proceedings.
Judge Barrios is internationally known for her role in presiding over and delivering the guilty verdict in the trial against former President Efraín Ríos Montt. Over the course of her 18-year career Barrios has been essential to bringing justice to Guatemala. She has delivered thousands of sentences in cases related to organized crime, assassinations, abductions and kidnappings.
The Honour Tribunal’s decision is the latest affront to the justice system in Guatemala. In early March, the Guatemala Constitutional Court ruled to end Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz’s term 7 months early. Paz y Paz played an integral role in building the case against former President Efraín Ríos Montt.