The Ombudsman, Walter Gutiérrez, He has been out of office for six months. The congress, entity in charge to choose his replacement, has installed a commission to see the matter just a week ago. Meanwhile, Gutiérrez has used his position to request the resignation of President Pedro Castillo on several occasions.
When asked when he would leave office, he indicated that he would stay until March 31; but when the corresponding date arrived, he did not do it. After questioning his person for the conflict of interest he maintains, Gutiérrez finally announced his departure for next week.
Next, we will review the controversies that the outgoing Ombudsman leaves behind.
When should you have left the Ombudsman’s Office?
Walter Gutiérrez assumed the position of Ombudsman in September 2016 to hold the position for five years. Although the date to leave his mandate came in September 2021, Gutiérrez did not speak out and remained in command of the Ombudsman’s Office until now.
In February of this year, after questions arose regarding his permanence in the position beyond the five years in which he should be, Gutiérrez assured that he would remain in the position until March 2022 and not beyond that.
March 31 arrived, but not his resignation. Thus, Gutiérrez spoke again, indicating that his deadline would be until next week, at the end of April.
But is it usual for a defender to stay in office once his mandate has expired?
The lack of attention from Congress was one of the main reasons that led to Walter Gutiérrez remaining as Ombudsman, almost half a year after the end of his term.
According to the Organic Law of the Ombudsman’s Office, Congress is the entity in charge of appointing an Ombudsman who may meet the requirements.
Besides, the ombudsman can assign a deputy as temporary manager in case it is impossible for him to continue in office until a successor takes over, this law specifies.
This figure has been used by former People’s Defenders, but Gutiérrez did not contemplate it.
Walter Gutiérrez, his opposition tendency and the calls for resignation against Castillo
In February 2022, while being interviewed by the journalist Fernando del Rincón for the CNN network, the Ombudsman asked that President Castillo resign.
“He has had so many behaviors that are currently being crossed out or are being pointed out as acts of corruption. For all these reasons he would not accept (the position as chief of staff) and more well I would invite him to resign”he asserted.
When the journalist asked him if he was not afraid that he would be questioned for having applied for something like that while having the position of Ombudsman, Gutiérrez compared himself with other personalities who have also held the position and who were uncomfortable for the Government during the dictatorship of Alberto Fujimori.
Months later, on April 9 of the same year, the Ombudsman’s Office issued a letter addressed to President Pedro Castillo in which he was once again requested the resignation of the position of president, due to the questions that were given to the president by the protests and the strike of carriers.
The letter also lists other reasons, such as the president’s lack of transparency in not making public the list of visits he had during his meetings in Breña, and describes as unconstitutional the mandatory immobilization order issued by the head of state on April 5.
Being an opponent is a role of the Ombudsman?
In a interview that La República conducted with Walter Albánthe also former People’s Defender considered that the role that Gutiérrez was fulfilling seemed to be “that of one more parliamentarian”.
Albán explained that the role of the institution of The Ombudsman’s Office is based on Gutiérrez’s ability to influence as a moral and ethical authority.
The specialist indicated that Gutiérrez’s actions should be a little more cautious and should not join the opposition.
Given the examples that Gutiérrez gave about the Fujimori dictatorship, Albán indicated that in those cases it is different, since what was perceived was an environment in which the Constitution was left aside.
“There are more extreme situations where the Ombudsman could give some kind of more forceful pronouncement, within the constitutional framework, but it is not the role of the Ombudsman to be just another opponent,” he explained..
Walter Gutiérrez and his conflict of interest
In April 2022, the State Procurement Supervisory Agency (OSCE) issued a report in which reported that the still Ombudsman was in the midst of a conflict of interest for having contracted with the State through his publishing company Gaceta Jurídica SA, where he is the majority shareholder.
As concluded by the OSCE, Walter Gutiérrez in his post of Ombudsman “is prevented from contracting with the State at the national level during the exercise of the position and up to 12 months after ceasing his functions”, which means that Gutiérrez should not appear in any contract until April 2023.
Nevertheless, there are state contracts with your company during the years 2016 to 2020, therefore, the OSCE determined that there is a conflict of interest.