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Save the Kids Says Its Guatemala Workplaces Have been Searched Over Abuse Claims

Guatemalan authorities searched the places of work of Save the Kids, the worldwide charity stated on Thursday, in an inquiry into claims of kid abuse that was extensively considered as a political assault in a rustic with a historical past of focusing on nonprofit teams and human rights organizations.

Guatemala’s Public Ministry stated in a statement on Thursday that it had searched the headquarters of a corporation as “a part of an ongoing transnational investigation” into potential abuses in opposition to Guatemalan kids. The ministry didn’t identify the group.

Save the Kids, which has operated in Guatemala since 1976, stated its workplace had been searched. It denied the claims and stated it had not been beforehand notified of an investigation.

Rafael Curruchiche, who leads the particular prosecutor’s workplace in opposition to impunity, stated in a video printed on social media that the search had concerned the “registration and seizure of proof” in coordination with the nationwide police.

Mr. Curruchiche, whom the USA sanctioned by inserting him on a listing of corrupt officers for obstructing corruption inquiries and undermining democracy, stated that the search adopted a criticism filed with the Public Ministry.

Guatemala has had a report of suppressing anticorruption and human rights work. Alejandro Giammattei, who served as president from 2020 to 2024, routinely focused nonprofits throughout his time period. In 2021, a brand new legislation gave the authorities huge powers to dissolve nongovernmental organizations after lawmakers argued that teams receiving international funding violated Guatemala’s sovereignty. Charities have stated that the laws suppressed the liberty of meeting and expression.

President Bernardo Arévalo, an anticorruption crusader, was elected final 12 months and took workplace earlier this 12 months regardless of staunch resistance from his opponents within the authorities. However the conservative political institution, together with prosecutors, that’s against Mr. Arévalo has made it tough for him to implement his agenda.

The criticism in opposition to Save the Kids was filed by an individual who stated that Guatemalan kids have been being abused at shelters in Texas the place nongovernmental organizations have been working, in response to Juan Luis Pantaleón, a spokesman for the Public Ministry.

Mr. Curruchiche, the prosecutor, stated that the authorities had requested the legal professional common’s workplace in Texas for assist with the investigation. In a letter to Ken Paxton, the Texas legal professional common, verified by Guatemala’s Public Ministry, Ángel Pineda, the ministry’s secretary common, accused Save the Kids of sending kids to Texas illicitly. Mr. Pineda has additionally been sanctioned by the USA.

Manfredo Marroquín, the pinnacle of Citizen Motion, a Guatemalan anti-corruption coverage group, dismissed the notion that Guatemalan prosecutors have been instantly involved concerning the security of youngsters within the nation.

“Most certainly, and virtually assuredly, that is politically motivated,” he stated in an interview.

Guatemala, the place one in two kids are malnourished, has additionally lengthy been scrutinized for the well being and circumstances of youngsters. Guatemalan kids have fled violence and poverty, typically for security in the USA. However rising numbers of them have been returned. Adoptions to households in the USA have stalled due to allegations of kidnappings and child promoting.

Save the Kids defended its work in an announcement on Thursday, stating, “We don’t — and we’ve by no means — facilitated the motion of youngsters out of Guatemala.” As a substitute, it stated it supported well being and diet applications, entry to training and meals within the public college system and emergency help.

“We’re shocked and perplexed by the unprecedented search of our places of work by the Guatemalan Public Ministry,” the group stated. “No particular allegations have been made identified to us, and there’s no proof to help allegations of misconduct.”

Final week, the charity stated that it was conscious of claims concerning the well-being of the migrant kids that it was working with. It stated that there was no proof to help these claims, including that it took all baby misconduct allegations severely and had unbiased investigative mechanisms to look at them.

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