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Guatemala

Capital

Guatemala City

Territory

107,160km²

Population (2020)

16,858,333

GDP Total (2020)

77.6B USD

GDP Per Capita (2020)

4,603 USD

Icome Group

Upper middle income

Convention Implementation

67.1
In progress

Western Hemisphere Ranking

60.7

11th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

65.0

4th of 8 countries

Corruption Resilience

40.9
Vulnerable

Western Hemisphere Ranking

54.4

27th of 31 countries

Central America Ranking

50.3

7th of 8 countries

Convention Implementation

Score by thematic sections and measures

Prevention

In progress
51.8

Western Hemisphere 46.3

Central America 50.9

Standards of Conduct

In progress
53.1

Western Hemisphere 42.8

Central America 59.8

Enforcement of Standards of Conduct

In progress
62.5

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 62.1

Training of Public Officials

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 36.8

Central America 38.0

Asset and Conflicts of Interests Declarations

In progress
43.7

Western Hemisphere 42.3

Central America 57.0

Transparency in Government Contracting

Core-deficient
40.6

Western Hemisphere 33.1

Central America 36.6

Elimination of Favorable Tax Treatment

In progress
62.5

Western Hemisphere 47.1

Central America 65.1

Oversight Bodies

Core-deficient
28.9

Western Hemisphere 36.0

Central America 36.0

Measures to Deter Domestic and Foreign Bribery

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 36.7

Central America 53.9

Encouraging Participation by Civil Society

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 43.0

Central America 58.1

Study of Other Prevention Measures

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 44.9

Central America 42.9

Criminalization and law enforcement

In progress
67.3

Western Hemisphere 61.1

Central America 65.0

Protection of Those who Report Acts of Corruption

Core-deficient
28.9

Western Hemisphere 30.7

Central America 42.1

Scope

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 67.7

Central America 75.9

Jurisdiction: Offense-in-Territory

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 74.6

Central America 90.0

Jurisdiction: Offense-by-National

In progress
54.6

Western Hemisphere 51.9

Central America 69.8

Jurisdiction: Offender-in-Territory

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 58.8

Central America 55.0

Passive Public Bribery

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 56.7

Active Public Bribery

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 56.4

Central America 59.1

Abuse of Functions

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 47.0

Central America 57.7

Money Laundering

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 55.8

Central America 54.2

Participation and Attempt

In progress
62.5

Western Hemisphere 58.4

Central America 67.1

Active Foreign Bribery

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 39.0

Central America 51.7

Illicit Enrichment

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 54.7

Central America 69.8

Use of State Property

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 79.5

Central America 87.6

Illicit Acquisition of a Benefit

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 52.1

Central America 62.5

Public Embezzlement

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 77.6

Central America 87.6

Passive Foreign Bribery

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 25.6

Central America 33.9

Private Bribery

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 22.7

Central America 18.5

Private Embezzlement

Not Implemented
0

Western Hemisphere 64.7

Central America 63.2

Obstruction of Justice

Implemented
71.8

Western Hemisphere 71.4

Central America 74.0

Liability of Legal Persons

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 61.3

Central America 61.0

Statute of Limitations

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 79.6

Central America 87.6

Prosecution, Adjudication and Sanctions

In progress
68.7

Western Hemisphere 69.5

Central America 75.5

Consequences and Compensation

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 70.3

Central America 73.4

Cooperation With Law Enforcement

Core-deficient
31.2

Western Hemisphere 72.2

Central America 79.2

Asset Recovery

In progress
68.7

Western Hemisphere 66.4

Central America 72.7

International cooperation

Implemented
76.9

Western Hemisphere 68.9

Central America 74.5

Assistance Without Criminalization

In progress
57.8

Western Hemisphere 79.8

Central America 89.0

Inclusion in Extradition Treaties

In progress
47.6

Western Hemisphere 55.1

Central America 55.8

Convention as Legal Basis for Extradition

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 47.5

Central America 57.6

Automatic Application Without Treaty

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 52.7

Central America 54.4

Prosecution Without Extradition

In progress
50

Western Hemisphere 57.2

Central America 55.8

Custody

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 73.4

Central America 79.1

Assistance

In progress
50.7

Western Hemisphere 58.0

Central America 58.9

Impossibility of Claiming Bank Secrecy

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 84.0

Central America 98.2

Limited Use of Information

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 82.6

Central America 88.0

Nature of Act

Implemented
82.8

Western Hemisphere 84.3

Central America 97.8

Designate Central Authorities

Implemented
100

Western Hemisphere 75.9

Central America 90.2

Responsibilities of Central Authorities

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 71.5

Central America 72.7

Communication Between Central Authorities

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 67.3

Central America 73.6

Special Investigative Techniques

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 56.9

Central America 75.7

Technical Cooperation

Implemented
85.9

Western Hemisphere 62.8

Central America 69.9

Anti-corruption conventions timeline

199619971998199920002001200220032004200520062007200820092010201120122013201420152016201720182019

Conventions

  • IACAC - Inter-American Convention Against Corruption
  • UNCAC - United Nations Convention against Corruption
  • OECD Anti-Bribery Convention

Key events

  • Signed
  • Ratifed / acceded
  • Review rounds

Convention Implementation Analysis

Guatemala signed the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption (IACAC) on June 4, 1996, and ratified it on June 12, 2001. It is a State Party to the Follow-Up Mechanism for the Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (MESICIC) since December 19, 2001. The country also signed the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) on December 9, 2003, and subsequently ratified it on November 3, 2006. Accordingly, Guatemala has undergone five rounds of review under MESICIC, and one round of review under the UNCAC review mechanism.

Guatemala’s record in implementing its commitments to IACAC and UNCAC exhibits a number of successes and a few failures. With an overall score of 67.2, the measures adopted place the country at the middle point of compliance with international norms, surrounded by Honduras (66.6), The Bahamas (67.1), Nicaragua (67.9), and Cuba (69.3). Despite achieving higher success in regard to criminalization and international cooperation (as is the case throughout the region) the majority of preventive measures are found to be in progress, while the only two unimplemented (either fully or partially) measures in the country belong to criminalization and law enforcement. Furthermore, as almost half of all measures below the “implemented” level receive a score above 50, a degree of progress can be noted in all three sections—albeit with an emphasis on international cooperation.

The prevention of corruption is undergoing, classified as “in progress” by its average score and with all but three measures given a score of 50 or above—the state of oversight bodies (28.9), transparency in government contracting (40.6), and systems for registering asset and conflict of interests' declarations (43.8), all three of which are found to be deficient at core. While these measures represent almost half of all “core-deficient” or unimplemented scores given to the country and no measures in this section are considered to be successfully implemented, there are no unimplemented commitments either. A single measure shows markedly positive progress: the initiatives to encourage the participation of civil society (71.9).

In terms of criminalization and law enforcement, Guatemala shows better results than those regarding prevention, although a few important deficiencies remain. The country has not adopted sufficient protection for those who report acts of corruption (i.e., whistleblower protection) (28.9) or utilized legal mechanisms to facilitate cooperation with law enforcement (e.g., plea bargain) (31.3). Concerning the latter, the UNCAC review mechanism reports that, in practice, the benefits provided for in the country’s Law against Organized Crime—such as the reduction of punishment and others—are not applied in corruption cases; additionally, “Guatemala has not entered into agreements with regard to the concession of such benefits to collaborators with justice at the international level.” Two other measures are found fully unimplemented—the criminalization of bribery and embezzlement in the private sector (both of which are required by UNCAC). On the other hand, several measures are considered to be successfully implemented, including those pertaining to illicit enrichment, embezzlement in the public sector, the illicit acquisition of a benefit (i.e., influence trading), and most significantly the passive bribery of foreign officials (the active form received a score of 50.8) and the liability of legal persons (both of which are also required by UNCAC). 

Finally, Guatemala’s mild implementation of its commitments regarding international cooperation is reflected in two thirds of all measures within this section receiving an “implemented” score and no measures found deficient at core. The few measures still in progress concern extradition and mutual legal assistance, in regard to which the UNCAC review mechanism finds that “Guatemala does not maintain a system of statistics on mutual legal assistance cases, and could not recall any mutual legal assistance cases with regard to the offenses established in accordance with the Convention.” However, while lack of monitoring and data collection mechanisms is a deficit commonly found in the review of other countries across the region, Guatemala satisfies the general requirement of statistical information to assess the level of implementation of legally adopted measures.

Corruption Resilience

Score by indicator

Social Context

Moderately Resilient
46.3

Western Hemisphere 64.8

Central America 59.7

Quality of Government

Vulnerable
33.5

Western Hemisphere 50.6

Central America 47.3

Rule of Law

Vulnerable
30.6

Western Hemisphere 51.1

Central America 43.5

Business Stability

Moderately Resilient
52.2

Western Hemisphere 50.5

Central America 51.6

Violence & Security

Vulnerable
42.1

Western Hemisphere 55.0

Central America 49.1

Corruption Resilience score over the time

Analysis

Guatemala's social context indicator declined in 2020 by 0.87 points from the previous year, resulting in a score of 46.30, which falls below the Western Hemisphere regional average of 64.89 by 18.59 points. Since 2010, the country's score has varied with an approximately 2.5-point decline from year to year. Throughout the decade, the mini-max range for Guatemala was 46.30 (2020) and 52.08 (2010), with a range of 5.78 points. Guatemala's social context indicator score within Central American countries is one the lowest performers.

With regard to the quality of government indicator, Guatemala’s score has declined by 3.12 points from 2019, resulting in a score of 33.54. Guatemala's current indicator score fails to reach or surpass the Western Hemisphere regional average of 50.63, by 17.09 points. Since 2010, the country's score has been on a decline, and has dropped 12.13 points between 2010 and 2020. The country's quality of government score is primarily attributed to widespread and worsening corruption within the country, the government's poor control of corruption, and generally, the state’s weak-preforming democracy. The country is characterized by democratic fragility and continues to face major obstacles in maintaining impartial administration and improving an inefficient bureaucratic system.

Guatemala's rule of law indicator declined in 2020 by 4.18 points from the previous year. The indicator's Western Hemisphere regional average was 51.15, and Guatemala's score failed to reach the threshold by 20.54 points. As a result, Guatemala's rule of law indicator falls within the bottom percentile for the Western Hemisphere region. During the last decade, the mini-max range for Guatemala was 30.61 (2020) and 42.31 (2010), with a range of 11.70 points. This indicator is mainly impacted by widespread corruption and government inefficiency within the country. Moreover, Guatemalan courts remain highly susceptible to political influence by internal and external actors, which severely restricts judicial independence within the country.

In terms of business stability, the country's indicator scores for 2020 increased by 2.07 points from the previous year. Guatemala's 2020 indicator score surpasses the Western Hemisphere average of 50.53 by 1.71 points. Notably, the business stability indicator is Guatemala’s only indicator which meets or surpasses the Western Hemisphere and Central American average. Throughout the decade, the country's score has varied, where its highest score of 52.24 was recorded in 2020 and its lowest score of 46.03 was measured in 2015. Guatemala’s consistently low rank is largely the result of poor law enforcement, widespread corruption, and a lack of transparency in regulations that impact businesses.

Guatemala's violence and security indicator for 2020 declined by 3.36 points from the previous year. The country's indicator score fell below the Western Hemisphere average of 55.04 by 12.90 points. During the decade, the mini-max range for Guatemala was 30.76 (2011) and 45.50 (2019). The country has witnessed slight improvements in its score, but it remains consistently low. According to the OSAC, Guatemala is considered one the most dangerous countries in the world due to the presence of violent criminal gangs like Barrio 18 (18th Street) and Mara Salvatrucha (MS13).

Transparency Record

Main Reporting NGO

Acción Ciudadana

Report date

Nov-2013

Review year

2013-2014

Document reviewed

Executive Summary

language

Spanish

Did the government make public the contact details before the country focal point? No
Was civil society consulted in preparation for the self-assessment? No
Was civil society invited to provide information to the official reviewers? No
Was the self-assessment published online or provided to CSOs? No

The civil society parallel review report for Guatemala was authored by multiple organizations using information recorded during the 2013-2014 period. The main author was Citizen Action (Acción Ciudadana), an association that promotes the political reform of the state, which collaborated with the following organizations to create the report: the Alliance for Transparency (AporT), the Guatemalan Chamber of Industry, the Guatemala Center for Studies (CEG), the National Center for Information and Research on Development and Disaster (CENACIDE), the Mutual Support Group (GAM), Guate Cívica, and the Institute of Independent Research and Analysis of Guatemala (IINAIG). Unlike most parallel reports, Guatemala’s review included a significant and diverse number of civil society groups. However, the ability to obtain information for the report proved difficult. Although there is legislation to facilitate accessing public information, each institution has different restrictions and policies on complying with the law. Therefore, information requests were submitted electronically or during interviews, but in some cases the data obtained was either insufficient or non-existent.

Generally, Guatemala’s legal framework complies with the guidelines contained in chapters III and IV of the UNCAC. Significant deficiencies in implementation are posed by the following: a culture of silence due to fear of retaliation, the low number of complaints filed by relevant bodies in institutional statistics, the high turnover of officials in charge of investigating corruption cases, and a lack of coordination at the operational level. The report highlighted several priority area recommendations—namely, addressing the high turnover of government personnel, the creation of a state policy to fight corruption, enhancing accessibility of information, strengthening institutional statistical systems, providing training for all relevant bodies, and establishing mechanisms for anonymous and confidential complaints, among others.