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Journalists, newspapers subject to smear campaign

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - 5 April 2010 - "Prensa Libre" and "elPeriódico" newspapers and columnists Mario Fuentes Destarac, Mario Antonio Sandoval and José Rodolfo Pérez have been subjected to a campaign to discredit them, and it appears that the campaign originated within the Guatemala City government. The ombudsperson has condemned the incident.

According to information received by CERIGUA, "Prensa Libre" and "elPeriódico" were accused of entering into an agreement with transportation companies that provide service on short-haul routes to support a fare hike on public transit. This accusation was made on flyers that were distributed at Transmetro stops.

The directors of the two newspapers, Gonzalo Marroquín and Juan Luis Font, said that the mayor, Álvaro Arzú, was bothered by the papers' reports of abuses in the issuing of prepaid transit cards and irregularities in the authorisation of transit routes, among other issues.

Columnists Destarac and Sandoval are also mentioned in the anonymous flyers. Both journalists have pointed to the mayor as being behind the flyers and attributed it to his long-standing dislike for the country's newspapers.

Ombudsperson Sergio Morales issued a resolution condemning the smear campaign as a violation of the right to free thinking and said he would hold the government accountable. The resolution stated that whoever was behind the flyers had tried to discredit the journalists, who were investigating and giving opinions on issues of public interest.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Call on authorities to uphold freedom of expression.


APPEALS TO:

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

Sergio Morales Alvarado
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
(Ombudsperson)
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
(Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Labour Activists)
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
(UN High Commissioner's Office 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]

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