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Two journalists receive death threats in Petén

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Two journalists have received death threats in the department of Petén, northern Guatemala, apparently for having provided coverage of a 1 August 2009 assassination attempt against the governor of the department, Rudel Mauricio Álvarez.

Heber Isaí Méndez Díaz, the director of the "Libre Expresión" news programme, broadcast on Shekina 102.9 FM radio station in the municipality of San Benito, Petén, said that he and his brother have received death threats on their mobile phones. He added that they do not know who is behind the threats but that they began after they provided coverage of the attack on the governor.

"Other media outlets have not covered the story, my news programme is the only one that has done so. He (the governor) has many enemies and there are people interested in taking over his position," the journalist said upon filing a complaint with the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público, MP).

Heber Méndez has received both telephone calls and text messages on his mobile phone in which he has been told that he and his family will be killed. Unidentified individuals also left a note with a bullet at his house. In the note they said they are watching his family since he has been meddling in affairs that are none of his business. His vehicle has also been vandalised and equipment he uses for his work was stolen.

Heber Méndez's brother, Abner Abisaí Méndez, who works for the "Palpitar Petenero" radio news programme, has also received threatening messages since he witnessed the attack on Álvarez. Like his brother, unidentified individuals have sent him text messages saying they know where he lives and that they are going to kill him and his family, noting that they will not fail as they did with the assassination attempt against the governor.

The two journalists have filed complaints regarding the threats against them with the MP in San Benito, Petén, as well as in the capital, Guatemala City, and with an auxiliary bureau of the Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (Procuraduría de Derechos Humanos, PDH).


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to authorities:
- urging them to provide security to Heber Isaí Méndez Díaz and Abner Abisaí Méndez, as well as their families
- calling on them to ensure that the journalists' right to freedom of expression is respected


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential High Commissioner for Human Rights)
2a. Avenida 10-50, zona 9
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2334 0119

Sergio Morales Alvarado
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
(Human Rights Ombudsman)
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2424 1717
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra Periodistas y Sindicalistas
(Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Trade Unionists)
Ministerio Público
7a. Avenida 11-20, zona 1, segundo nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2220 6873

Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas Sobre Derechos Humanos para Guatemala
(Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala)
13 calle 3-40, zona 10, Edifico Atlantils, oficina 803
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2382 3410
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Raúl Velásquez
Ministro de Gobernación
(Interior Minister)
6a. Avenida 4-64, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2362 0237 / 2339 4474
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Baltazar Gómez Barrios
Director de la Policía Nacional Civil
(Director, National Police)
Dirección General de la Policía Nacional Civil
6a. Avenida 13-71, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2238 1474

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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