Save the Children announces Guatemala office raided over abuse allegations

The international charity Save the Children said on Thursday that Guatemalan authorities are investigating the group into allegations of child abuse that are widely seen as political attacks in the country, which has a history of targeting nonprofits and human rights groups. announced that their office had been raided.

Guatemala’s Ministry of Public Affairs stated: statement On Thursday, it said it had searched an organization’s headquarters “as part of an ongoing cross-border investigation” into possible abuse of children in Guatemala. The ministry has not disclosed the name of the organization.

Save the Children, which has been active in Guatemala since 1976, announced that its offices had been raided. The company denied the allegations and said it was not notified of the investigation in advance.

Raphael Cruciche, head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity, said: video The investigation included “registration and seizure of evidence” in coordination with the national police, it said on social media.

Krusice wanted by the US list of corrupt officials He said the investigation was based on a complaint filed with the Ministry of Public Affairs, alleging corruption and obstruction of democracy.

Guatemala has a history of suppressing anti-corruption and human rights efforts. In 2021, a law giving authorities broad powers to dissolve non-governmental groups was enacted after lawmakers argued that groups receiving foreign funding were violating Guatemala’s sovereignty.The charity says: law Freedom of assembly and expression was suppressed.

Guatemala’s current president, Bernardo Arévalo, ran for office as an anti-corruption campaigner and took office earlier this year, despite staunch resistance from opponents within the government. He replaced his predecessor, Alejandro Giammattei, who targeted nonprofits and human rights groups during his term. But Arevalo faces opposition from conservative political forces, including prosecutors, making it difficult to implement his policies.

Public Ministry spokesman Juan Luis Pantaleon said the complaint against Save the Children was filed by a person who alleges Guatemalan children are being abused at a Texas shelter where the non-governmental organization operates. He said it had been submitted.

Krushish said authorities have asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office to assist in the investigation. In a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and seen by Guatemala’s Public Ministry, the agency’s executive director, Angel Pineda, accused Save the Children of illegally sending children to Texas. Mr. Pineda is also subject to sanctions from the United States.

Manfredo Marroquín, head of Guatemalan anti-corruption organization Citizen Action, rejected the idea that Guatemalan prosecutors suddenly became concerned about the safety of children in the country.

“This is probably, almost certainly, politically motivated,” he said in an interview.

Guatemala has also long come under scrutiny for the poor treatment of children in the country. Guatemalan children flee violence and poverty and often seek safety in the United States. However, the number of returned products is increasing. Adoptions have stalled in the United States due to allegations of kidnapping and baby sales.

Save the Children defended its work as follows: statement “We do not and have never facilitated the movement of children outside of Guatemala.” In return, it said it would support health and nutrition programs, education and food access in the public school system, and emergency relief.

“We are shocked and perplexed by the unprecedented raid of our office by the Guatemalan Ministry of Public Affairs,” the group said in a statement. “The specific allegations are not known to us and there is no evidence to support any allegations of wrongdoing.”

Last week the charity said: aware of the complaint About the well-being of immigrant children who were active. The company said there was no evidence to support these claims, adding that it takes all allegations of child misconduct seriously and has an independent investigative mechanism in place to investigate them.

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