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Guatemala

Key Developments

» One journalist killed under unclear circumstances; another attacked.

» Critical daily elPeriódico harassed and attacked.

Journalists covering sensitive issues like crime and corruption faced a climate of increased intimidation and violence in 2013. One journalist was killed under unclear circumstances. CPJ continues to investigate to determine if the killing was work-related. Another journalist survived an assassination attempt, and the owner, staff, and website of the daily elPeriódico, which is known for its investigations of government corruption, were repeatedly targeted with threats, intimidation, and attacks. The country closely followed the dramatic prosecution of General José Efraín Rios Montt, the former military leader of Guatemala, on allegations of human rights violations during part of the country’s decades-long civil war, when press freedom was severely restricted. His historic conviction was overturned, and the future of the case was uncertain, with Rios Montt under house arrest. The private office in Guatemala City of the special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue, was broken into in unclear circumstances. The local press freedom group CERIGUA documented at least 54 cases of attacks on the press in 2013, many of which were concentrated in the department of Guatemala, where the capital city is situated. In light of growing anti-press violations, the government announced the creation of a protection mechanism for journalists who have been threatened.



  • 1

    Killed, motive unconfirmed
  • 67%

    Murders by government officials
  • 1

    Journalist attacked
  • 54

    Press freedom violations
 

TV and radio journalist Carlos Alberto Orellana Chávez was abducted and shot to death in August 2013. CPJ is investigating to determine if his killing was related to his work.


Breakdown of fatalities over time:

5

Journalists killed, motive confirmed, since 1992

14

Journalists killed in unclear circumstances since 1992. CPJ continues to investigate the killings.
 

In the majority of confirmed journalist murders in Guatemala, government officials are the suspected perpetrators, according to CPJ research. That figure is mirrored in the country’s impunity rate, CPJ research shows.


Murders by suspected source of fire:

67% Government officials
33% Unknown


Impunity rate for journalist murders:

67% Complete impunity
33% Partial justice

 

Gunmen shot journalist Fredy Rodas at least three times on August 12, according to news reports. Rodas, the Mazatenango correspondent for Radio Sonora and a journalist at the daily newspaper Al Día, survived the attack.

Guatemalan journalists and news outlets faced a climate of increased violence and intimidation in 2013. The Guatemala City-based daily elPeriódico, which specializes in investigative reporting on government corruption, was particularly targeted.


Breakdown of attacks on elPeriódico:

1

Attack by gunmen on motorcycles on the home of Vernick Gudiel, head of the paper’s investigative reporting unit, according to reports. No one was injured.

4

Cyberattacks on the daily’s website in 2013. The origin of the attacks is unknown but all of them occurred shortly before or after the outlet published articles alleging corruption or ties to organized crime within the government.

6

Months of suspended prison sentence handed down to former minister of sports and culture for threatening elPeriódico journalist Sofia Menchú in relation to her investigative reporting.
 

The local press group CERIGUA documented 54 abuses of the press as of November 25, 2013, up from 36 in all of 2012. Violations include physical violence, threats, intimidation, defamation lawsuits, judicial harassment, censorship and obstruction of coverage

Breakdown of 2013 violations by state:
Guatemala Map

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