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Apr 3, 2018

Is Lawsuit Going to Block the Road to the I.C.J. in Guatemala?

According to Guatemalan newspaper El Periodico, a potential monkey wrench has been thrown into the plans for the April fifteenth referendum on taking the Belize-Guatemala claim to the International Court of Justice. Two Guatemalan men have filed a constitutional claim challenging the ratification by Congress of the December 2008 Special Agreement and its amendment in 2015.   The three attorneys for sixty-eight-year-old engineer, Lionel Nájera and seventy-three-year-old Héctor Quezada, an architect presented the documents to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court last Wednesday, March twenty-eighth. The Special Agreement is the document signed by the leadership of both countries agreeing that the territorial claim should be submitted to the International Court of Justice for final resolution. However, it cited that peoples of both countries must approve that move via a referendum. However, attorneys for Najera and Quezada charge that the Agreement is unconstitutional to Guatemala, violating Article nineteen of their Constitution in that it was not submitted by Congress to a popular referendum. They claim that it does not confirm with the national interest as it relates to the Executive authority to take action in resolving Guatemala’s rights. They also claim that Article one-seventy-three was violated. That article states, “Political decisions of special importance must be submitted to the consultation of all citizens.” The respondents in the claim are the Attorney General’s Ministry, Public Prosecutions; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Solicitor for Human Rights. No date has been set for hearing. Nájera and Quezada are legally represented by Manuel Alfonso Ramírez Villeda, José Manuel Ramírez Campos and Arturo Miranda.

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