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Guatemalan prosecutors raid Save the Children’s offices over migrant children complaint

The raid was carried out by authorities from the Special Public Prosecutor Against Impunity and the Civil Police, government lawyers said, after an investigation was opened into the treatment of migrant children in Texas shelters.

“The Public Prosecutor received a complaint referencing and highlighting incidents regarding Guatemalan children and teenagers being subject to vulnerabilities in shelters in Texas, connected with a network which [involves] NGOs that operate in the United States and Guatemala,” a spokesperson for the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Juan Luis Pantaleon, said.

Pantaleon said the raid was to gather information for the investigation. It included document searches and seizures, the prosecutor’s office said on X.

The complaint was filed in Guatemala but authorities requested the help of the Texas Attorney General’s Office since some of the shelters allegedly involved are located there.

Save the Children, a British organization that helps minors in disasters and humanitarian crises, said in a statement that it was “not given any specific accusation and there is no evidence that support any accusation of improper conduct.”

It added that the organization does “not facilitate – and we never have – any transfer of children or teenagers out of Guatemala.”

Save the Children also said that it answers to the UK’s Charity Commission, which has its books audited annually.

The Guatemalan Prosecutor for Impunity, Rafael Curruchiche, said the case is “transnational and of great transcendence,” involving several organizations.

Curruchiche himself was sanctioned by the European Council last February with asset freezes and listed among those “responsible for undermining democracy, the rule of law, and the peaceful transfer of power in Guatemala.”

He is among other Central American officials who have been sanctioned with visa denial or cancellation for allegedly undermining democracy and the rule of law, including obstructing corruption investigations and raising “spurious” claims against other officials, according to a 2022 Report to Congress by the US Department of State.

Guatemala’s current President Bernardo Arévalo, an anti-corruption figure who defied the odds and won the election last year in a landslide, has promised to empower the judiciary.

He has, however, been constrained by the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office – led by US-sanctioned Attorney General Consuelo Porras ­­– that has made two requests to withdraw his immunity and is accused of attempting to disqualify the results of his election.

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