Guatemala’s top court refuses to seat female justice

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemala’s Congress refused to swear in a crusading female judge to the nation’s highest court Tuesday, a move the United States condemned.

Gloria Porras won re-election for another five-year term on Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, but she has faced constant challenges apparently linked to her rulings on corruption and other cases she has heard.

Porras has had 60 complaints filed against her and has faced 13 requests to lift her immunity so she could be prosecuted.

Julie Chung, acting assistant secretary in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, wrote that Tuesday’s move by Congress “undermines Guatemala’s commitment to an independent judiciary and addressing systemic corruption.”

Porras recently ruled against a candidate for a court post who had the support of the governing party but who faced accusations of corruption. That ruling appeared to spark objections to her own re-election for another five-year term on the Constitutional Court, where she has already served a decade.

Among her decisions, Porras voted to stop a proposal by Congress to reform Guatemala’s national reconciliation law that sought to provide amnesty for crimes against humanity. She also voted to block a proposed law that would have left the prosecutor’s office out of cases and allowed judges to negotiate charges directly with the accused.

Porras has suffered more than just harassment. She has had to hire lawyers and devote time to defending herself from attempts to remove her.

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