Reform to NGO Law: Guatemala
In Guatemala, the legislation on non-profit entities has not been so severe, so the authorities considered it appropriate to start the supervision and control in a strategic way based on good practices, always respecting constitutional rights, as well as the agreements and treaties that Guatemala has ratified, such as the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civic and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, providing an incentive for the creation of non-profit entities and the fulfillment of the purpose for which they were constituted.
Decree 04-2020 issued in the Palace of the Legislative Organism, in Guatemala City, on February 11, 2020, contains reforms to the Law of Non-Governmental Organizations -NGO-, Decree No. 2-2003 and the Civil Code, Decree number 106, which will represent that NGOs in Guatemala begin the transition in the inspection, control, and publication of financial information for non-profit entities that administer and execute funds mainly from donations.
However, on March 2, 2020, the Constitutional Court granted provisional protection, preventing compliance with the regulations created by the legislature, and it was until May 2021 that the Constitutional Court declared the constitutional guarantee of protection presented by different NGOs and civil society organizations. The amparos filed were based on the constitutional and conventional violation of the right of association, freedom of action and international relations, arguing that the reform grants discretionary powers to the Executive by having the power to cancel the registration of the NGO, as well as to hold its directors responsible. criminally, administratively and civilly.
The new regulation now in force establishes that NGOs must carry out the following actions that demand greater controls for them and represent greater transparency:
- Publish your balance sheet at the close of each accounting year;
- Inform the Ministry of Foreign Relations when they receive donations from an external source;
- NGOs registered in another country that operate in Guatemala will also be audited and must comply with national legislation;
- They must maintain their political independence from donors and financiers;
- They must be registered in the Registry of Legal Persons attached to the Ministry of the Interior, in the Planning and Programming Secretariat of the Presidency -SEGEPLAN- when there are changes in the Board of Directors or the Legal Representative.
- If it is incorporated abroad, it must register with the Ministry of Foreign Relations and if it receives resources from the national or municipal budget, it must register with the Comptroller General of Accounts -CGC-, and
- Only the NGO can manage and receive donor resources.
For Guatemala it is important that there is legislation that grants powers to specialized entities for the control and supervision of organizations that can administer and execute public funds or donations, thus increasing the incentive for foreigners who seek to carry out social welfare projects. With more effective legislation, Guatemalans, through NGOs, can gain greater credibility with donors.