Saturday, January 31, 2009

Organized Crime Threatens the Press

CERIGUA in it's latest report announced that intimidation from drug trafficking and organized crime threaten journalists.

Participants at the Regional Meeting of Latin American Organization on Freedom of Expression expressed concern at the deterioration in the state of the law in Guatemala, where three journalists were killed, 13 were assaulted and 10 others received death threats in 2008.

The news agency, CERIGUA, also referred to cases of attacks on journalists by police. However, these records do not reflect the truth since most victims prefer to remain silent and are not reporting such incidents. This atmosphere of fear contributes to impunity in Guatemala, says the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala. Participants at the meeting confirmed the allegations through the testimony of several journalists. They described the difficulty of living under these conditions of widespread fear of covering violent events. Participants also complained about the lack of commitment by local authorities to protect journalists and the media. According to information gathered, the most problematic areas are Zacapa, Izabal, Huehuetenango, Alta Verapaz and San Marcos.

The organizations also met with the deputy governor, Arnold Villagran, who confirmed that the lack of security and the violence in Guatemala are the result of the growing scourge of drug trafficking and the war between the cartels, coupled with a difficult economic situation.

In addition, the member organizations asked the government to establish an agenda for working towards a civil society that provides the some protective tools for journalists and media, to accelerate the investigation of crimes against journalists, and human rights training for police and officials.

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