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Journalist concerned for his safety after investigating allegations of nepotism

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - Journalist Héctor López Cordero, a correspondent for the "Guatevisión" news programme in the department of Quiché, reported that he has been receiving threatening messages which he suspects are coming from supporters of Congressman Lester Reyna. López has been investigating complaints about nepotism involving Reyna and his relatives.

The journalist told CERIGUA that he started receiving the threats after he conducted an investigation into a complaint originating from teachers in the municipality of San Andrés Sajcabajá who accused one of the congressman's brothers of selling teaching contracts.

López also conducted an investigation into the failure to finish the construction of a school in the same municipality, where Reyna's brother-in-law is in charge. On 6 February 2010, a day after reporting on his findings, the journalist began receiving calls from the congressman's supporters, asking him to meet with Reyna. López refused to meet with the congressman.

According to López, since Reyna is a member of the ruling party he has all the Quiché institutional resources at his disposal and, as such, his siblings, cousins and other relatives benefit by being awarded employment positions.

López said the situation worsened after the "Prensa Libre" newspaper published a report about nepotism and mentioned several officials, including Reyna. On 9 January, the journalist received a message on his mobile phone, saying he would be made to regret what he had done and that they would "hit him where it hurts most."

López said he fears for his safety, especially because, as a result of the problems Reyna is having, he may be forced out of his political party. The journalist said that Reyna's loss of control in the area would irritate many people.

In relation to the same case, the "elPeriódico" newspaper published an article on 15 February reporting that the congressman's brother, Orlando Reyna, had issued death threats against eight teachers from San Andrés Sajcabajá for denouncing anomalies in the awarding of employment positions.

CERIGUA calls on the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists to speed up the investigation in this case in order to ensure López's safety, following up on the complaint the journalist has already filed.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Send appeals to authorities, calling on them to:
- ensure the safety of López and his family
- conduct an investigation into López's case in order to bring those responsible for the threats against him to justice


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential Human Rights Commissioner)
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
Ministerio Público
(Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Labour Union Members)
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 UN 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
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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