GUATEMALA

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Press freedom has remained stable without violent incidents, although there are still isolated threats against some journalists by groups thought to be linked to organized crime or former corrupt officials who were exposed in the last three years by independent journalists. The Congress still has on its agenda a package of amendments to the Electoral and Political Party Law that includes restrictions on the use of surveys during election campaigns, despite the fact that this violates the Constitution and the principle of press freedom. A general freedom of information Law, proposed more than three years ago, is still shelved in Congress, and no political group has shown any interest in debating and approving it even though there is a demand for greater openness in public information. In the judicial realm, the IAPA has taken note of the first trial against two of the 14 attackers of the family of journalist José Rubén Zamora, editor of the daily elPeriódico , whose home was brutally broken into in July of 2003. The journalist's own investigations have established the identity of at least five of the attackers, all linked to state security forces. The first trial was of two of those he identified but only one was convicted and the other was acquitted, despite the evidence and complete identification by all members of the Zamora family and the servants who were also attacked. In a few weeks the trial of others implicated in the crime and those who planned it will open. This is the first time that a journalist attacked by the so-called parallel power in this country has taken legal action against his attackers. Threats against journalists have decreased. There have been calls warning of an alleged attack planned against three people, Bishop Ramazzini, opposition legislator Nineth Montenegro and Prensa Libre editor Gonzalo Marroquín. The authorities offered to protect the three people, but only the bishop accepted. Finally a judicial case has begun involving UHF television Channel 58 of the Mazatenango region in the southern part of the county. The channel does not retransmit its programs by cable as required by law. The case has gone to the Guatemalan Journalists Association and the courts.

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