We welcome the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner in Guatemala, in particular drawing attention to the human rights violations suffered by journalists and communicators. Despite this, the State of Guatemala continues to fail to guarantee the free and safe exercise of journalism.
The Guatemalan State has failed to comply with the recommendations of the Office of the High Commissioner, as well as similar recommendations from the Human Rights Committee, contributing to a climate that facilitates and legitimises attacks on journalists. Journalists face threats and coercion, including smear campaigns, especially against those who denounce acts of corruption at national or local level. Attacks against women journalists are widespread but remain invisible and unaddressed.
The Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Journalists does not promptly investigate attacks against journalists, leading to critical levels of impunity. Instead, spurious criminal proceedings are pursued against journalists, with the aim of silencing them.
The government maintains absolute control over information of vital public interest, obstructing access to public information for journalists and the general public, and only releasing information regarding its own interest.
At the same time, legislation has not been developed to fully guarantee indigenous peoples’ access to media companies. Nor have regulations been modified to allow for the application of democratic criteria in the allocation of radio frequencies.
We urge the Guatemalan government to fully implement the recommendation of the Office of the High Commissioner on strengthening legislation, policies and institutional structures for the protection of journalists, including the creation of a protection mechanism and the strengthening of the Office of the Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists.