Minister of State Kent Welcomes to Canada Head of International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala

(No. 48 - February 26, 2009) The Honourable Peter Kent, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) today welcomed Carlos Castresana, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General of the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), who is visiting Ottawa from February 26 to 27, 2009.

"I am pleased to welcome Mr. Castresana to Canada, particularly since we had such a productive meeting when I visited Guatemala in January," said Minister of State Kent. "I look forward to hearing his updates on the situation in Guatemala and to discussing the important work of the Commission."

The CICIG is a crucial part of efforts by the Guatemalan government and the international community to combat organized crime and corruption, which seriously threaten the stability of Guatemala, the welfare of its citizens and the security of the region as a whole. The security concerns are increasingly transnational, and Canada is actively supporting international initiatives, including those of the CICIG, to strengthen the rule of law in Central America.

"Canada has been a vocal supporter of the CICIG since its inception. We have played a long-standing role in advocating for human rights in Central America, as evidenced by our support for the UN mission and the truth and reconciliation process that took place after Guatemala's civil war ended in 1996," said Mr. Kent. "Building a more secure hemisphere, strengthening the rule of law and improving access to justice are foreign policy priorities for Canada, and Guatemala is a key partner in the pursuit of these priorities."

Mr. Castresana is in Canada to raise awareness about organized crime and impunity in Guatemala, and the work of the Commission. Canada is one of the largest financial donors to the CICIG, with the Canadian International Development Agency contributing $5 million in 2008. During Mr. Castresana's meetings, he will discuss the impact of impunity on Guatemala's development, justice, and economic objectives, as well as potential international cooperation in combatting organized crime.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Eleanor Johnston
Senior Special Assistant (Communications)
Office of the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas)
613-947-8981

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874