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Corruption, killings and impunity: A message for Guatemalan authorities

Ongoing journalist killings, impunity, and an attempt to silence the head of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala raise serious concern among regional freedom of expression organisations.

Guatemalan University students walk hand-in-hand demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City
Guatemalan University students walk hand-in-hand demanding the resignation of Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales in Guatemala City

AP Photo/Luis Soto

ATTN:

President of the Republic of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales.
Ministry of the Interior
Attorney General, Thelma Aldana.
Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, Hilda Pineda.
Deputy District Prosecutor, Sonia Montes.
Director of the National Police, Nery Ramos.
Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation, Stu Velasco
President of the Presidential Human Rights Commission, Jorge Luis Borrayo.
Association of Guatemalan Journalists (APG)
Guatemalan Chamber of Journalists (CGP)
Chamber of Guatemalan Newscasters (CLPG)

25 October 2017

IFEX-ALC, a regional alliance of 24 organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean that promotes and defends freedom of expression, expresses deep concern with the Morales administration's disregard for free expression and access to information.

The recent attempt by President Morales to deport Ivan Velasquez of the UN's International Commission to End Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) by declaring him “non-grata” not only raises serious questions about the legality of Morales's campaign, but also is indicative of his disregard for access to information and transparency. Velasquez was conducting an investigation into the president's campaign financing when the President ordered his departure from the country, an order that was subsequently suspended by the Supreme Court.

The Morales government has also failed to implement Guatemala's 2012 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendation by 9 countries to implement Special Protection Mechanisms, despite accepting the recommendations. The lack of effective protection mechanisms for journalists has come with a high cost. Between 2012-2017, 18 journalists have been murdered in the country, with 98% of cases going unpunished.

As a regional network extremely concerned with the Guatemalan government's apparent unwillingness to take necessary action to protect journalists as well as the president's attempt to stifle investigations into corruption associated with his campaign funding, we call on the following Guatemalan officials and entities:

Attorney General, Thelma Aldana:

• Investigate immediately President Morales's attempt to expulse Mr. Velasquez from the country to determine if obstruction of justice occurred.

President of the Republic of Guatemala, Jimmy Morales; Ministry of the Interior; Director of the National Police, Nery Ramos; Deputy Director of Criminal Investigations, Stu Velasco:

• Comply with the IACHR's resolution 1/17 to protect journalists, judges and prosecutors who investigate and disseminate information on corruption.

• Implement the Journalist Protection Program that was accepted by the Guatemalan state during its UPR in 2012.

Attorney General, Thelma Aldana; Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, Hilda Pineda; Deputy District Prosecutor, Sonia Montes; Ministry of the Interior, Director of the National Police, Nery Ramos; Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation, Stu Velasco.

Take immediate action to ensure that those responsible for attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and criminal justice operators are brought to justice.

Ministry of the Interior, Director of the National Police, Nery Ramos:

• Prioritise protection of Guatemalan citizens, including journalists, reporters, correspondents and media workers that play a key role in holding government's accountable.

IFEX-ALC will continue to monitor the Guatemalan State's actions in response to nearly universal impunity in cases of murdered journalists, government inaction to implement necessary special protection mechanisms and potential obstruction of justice on behalf of President Morales.

Sincerely,

IFEX-ALC

The IFEX-ALC Alliance is composed of the following organizations:

  • Articulo 19 (México y Centroamérica)
  • Artigo 19 (Brasil)
  • Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias (AMARC)
  • Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (ANP)
  • Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
  • Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI)
  • Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM)
  • Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública (CAINFO)
  • Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala (CERIGUA)
  • Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social (CENCOS)
  • Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre)
  • Derechos Digitales
  • Espacio Público
  • Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA)
  • Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios (FUNDAMEDIOS)
  • Fundación Karisma
  • Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP)
  • Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión (IPLEX)
  • Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS)
  • Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela (IPYS Venezuela)
  • Obervatorio Latinoamericano de Regulación, Medios y Convergencia (OBSERVACOM)
  • Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión (OLA)
  • Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay (SPP)
  • Trinidad & Tobago Publishers & Broadcasters Association (TTPBA)

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