Ouster of Guatemala’s Attorney General

We were surprised and disappointed to learn that our colleague Claudia Paz y Paz has had her term as Guatemala’s attorney general cut short. The nation’s Constitutional Court ruled on 6 February that her four-year term will end this May, instead of in December. (She was appointed in December 2010, replacing an attorney general who was appointed in May 2010.)

During her term, she put four generals from Guatemala’s civil war on the stand for charges of crimes against humanity and genocide, including General José Efraín Ríos Montt, who ruled from 1982 to 1983. We were fortunate to work with her on that trial and to witness the handing down of a “guilty” verdict by the Supreme Court. As scientists, we applaud her dedication to using scientific analysis in prosecutions.

Ms. Paz y Paz has an impeccable reputation for integrity and for pathbreaking work pursuing justice in Guatemala. Wherever she lands next will undoubtedly be richer for having her on board.

For more on Ms. Paz y Paz’s appeal process, her international reputation as a human rights defender, the U.S. Ambassador’s disappointment by her dismissal, and information about her challenger, a businessman who once directed Guatemala’s Industry Chamber, read these reports by The New York Times and Associated Press.