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Government offers letter of regret to family of journalist murdered nearly 30 years ago

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 15 January 2009 IAPA press release:

IAPA calls for final investigation to solve journalist Irma Flaquer's murder

Guatemala's government complies with commitment to provide victim's family with 'Letter of Regret'

MIAMI, Florida (January 15, 2009) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called for a resolution in the 28 year-old disappearance and murder of journalist Irma Flaquer and for those responsible to be brought to justice. The demand was made during an official ceremony in Guatemala City, Guatemala, during which the government handed members of the victim's family a "Letter of Regret" apologizing for its failure to see justice done so far.

The IAPA investigation into Flaquer's disappearance and death and its submission of the results to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 1997 is regarded as an exemplary case in the organization's battle to end the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists. The IAPA and the Guatemalan government reached an amicable agreement on March 2, 2001, after the government acknowledged its "international responsibility" in 2000 and committed to a list of 12 obligations, including one requiring it to pay homage to the victim's memory and provide financial compensation to her family.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, welcomed the government's action, which he said "makes just recognition of the debt owed to the
journalist, honors her person and her work and helps demonstrate to other governments that such acts of reparation are essential to ensure peace, encourage justice and broaden understanding that no voice must be silenced."

Taking part in the "Letter of Regret" presentation ceremony held at the National Culture Palace in the Guatemalan capital were the journalist's sister, Anabella Flaquer, and family members, as well as officials and local journalists, among them IAPA 2nd Vice President Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City newspaper Prensa Libre.

Marroquín, while stressing the important role played by the Guatemalan press as the country moved to democracy and congratulating the government on complying with a new commitment to provide reparations, at the same time urged officials to make sure that "investigations into the murder do not stop; rather, on the contrary, are extended until the responsible parties are brought to justice and this heinous crime does not remain unpunished." He recalled that this was a promise made by a special public prosecutor's office that the government set up as part of the "amicable agreement" with the IAPA.

The organization's investigation into the case of Flaquer, who went missing on October 16, 1980, in an incident in which her son was killed, is part of the IAPA's Anti-Impunity Project, which has been funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation since 1995.

Updates the Flaquer case:

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