The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) joins the many international calls condemning the arrest and criminal prosecution of renowned Guatemalan journalist José Rubén Zamora and assistant prosecutor Samari Carolina Gómez Díaz, as well as the attempt by the Public Prosecutor’s Office to financially stifle El Periódico.
A democratic system cannot be consolidated without freedom of the press, independent justice and access to the media. The attacks on the newspaper El Periódico and the arrest of Zamora are the actions of an authoritarian State that does not comply with its international human rights obligations, which include guaranteeing judicial independence, respecting the right to press freedom and refraining from interfering in the enjoyment of these rights.
The independent press — which includes outlets such as El Periódico and reporters such as José Rubén Zamora — has played a fundamental role in investigating, reporting and revealing serious cases of corruption and the links between organized crime groups and Guatemalan political elites.
These actions by the Guatemalan state are not only acts of censorship but also retaliation. In this regard, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has pointed out that behind the attacks on the press “there may be various types of actors, such as organized crime, national or local authorities or other groups of political or economic power that want to silence journalists.”
We call on the State of Guatemala to respect the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and to guarantee the physical integrity and life of José Rubén Zamora and the prosecutor Gómez Díaz. We also urge the Judiciary to comply with national and international law on the publicity of the proceedings, to act objectively and to maintain its integrity and independence.
Our solidarity with the Guatemalan press and the press of the entire Central American region for the attacks and persecution of which they are victims.
“No one shall be subjected to any form of interference on account of his opinions”. Article 19 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.