Miami (November 1, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged the Guatemalan authorities to ensure the safety of a female journalist in the inland part of the Central American country who has received death threats.
Lucía Escobar, who works for radio stations and online publications in Panajachel and is a columnist for the newspaper elPeriódico in the Guatemalan capital, Guatemala City, received death threats from members of the Panajachel Municipal Safety Commission, a group of local residents who with official permission work to prevent crime in their neighborhood.
However, following her accusation in an op-ed piece that the group was committing abuse of its powers by torturing, abducting and carrying out executions, all outside the law, among other offenses in Panajachel, there began a campaign to discredit and harass her.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, declared, “We are greatly concerned at the attempt at intimidating the journalist and the self-censorship that these actions could bring about if they are not investigated promptly and this group is allowed to continue acting outside the law.”
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added, “We also condemn the fact that several of the death threats and the campaign to discredit Escobar have been carried out by member of that group through the local television channel PanaDish, owned by the Panajachel mayor.
The IAPA said it would continue to keep an eye on the situation and that there was already sufficient strong evidence, in addition to the reporter’s complaint, for the authorities to treat this case as a priority and thus safeguard the principles of press freedom and human rights.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.