Report to the IAPA 77 General Assembly Virtual
October 19-22, 2021

This period saw reports of attacks and limitations to freedom of expression by means of anonymous intimidation on social networks and rulings by the Supreme Court of Justice.

Several reporters from national and international media were intimidated on social networks for their coverage of events related to the government. The aggressions are coming from "net centers" with fake accounts that are activated and deactivated in order to distract the audiences' attention.

The government limits information to the media based on confidentiality - especially in relation to the purchase of vaccines to combat Covid-19. In addition, the same old telephone pressure tactics are used to try to suppress information on public spending.

In September, the Supreme Court of Justice denied the request for impeachment against Attorney General Consuelo Porras, and ordered the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate elPeriódico - for publishing a testimony of a witness in that case.

On September 27, the Supreme Court of Justice denied that there were grounds to investigate the Attorney General - who days before was included in a U.S. State Department list of corrupt current and former officials - and ordered to open a criminal case against elPeriódico for "the possible commission of crimes" - for publishing and using a witness statement as evidence.

According to experts, the ruling contravenes Article 35 of the Constitution which states that "publications containing allegations, criticisms or accusations against public officials or employees for actions carried out in the exercise of their duties do not constitute a crime or misdemeanor."

Alejandra Carrillo - former congresswoman for the Patriot Party (close to former President Otto Pérez and former President Roxana Baldetti) and current director of the Victims' Institute - sued the president of La Hora by means of an old tactic by public officials of using the laws against femicide to justify their lawsuits.

The institute headed by Carrillo is under investigation as a result of journalistic reports that indicate the existence of irregular jobs used to pay political favors to legislators.

The Human Rights Ombudsman's Office (PDH) stated that freedom of the press has been "threatened and infringed by acts of intimidation and direct physical attacks against journalists, defamation campaigns, persecution and judicial harassment, open disqualifications by State authorities, systematic obstacles to free access to public information and actions of economic smothering."

In other events, on June 9 authorities raided the home of Juan José Corado - a sports journalist from elPeriodico. The police told the journalist that they had found nothing and that if he wanted to know the reasons for the raid he should go to the prosecutor's office.

On September 28, cameraman José Guarcas - from Xolabaj TV channel, in the department of El Quiché - was detained by ex-militaries who opposed an exhumation in that department. He was released after negotiations with security forces.

On October 19, several journalists and cameramen were assaulted during a demonstration by alleged former military personnel in front of the Congress building demanding compensation for their participation in the internal armed conflict in the 1980s.

Henry Montenegro and Elmer Vargas of Canal Guatevisión, Esbin García of Prensa Libre, José David Sanchinelli of Nuestro Diario, Javier Estrada of and Simón Antonio of Prensa Comunitaria were beaten with sticks, machetes and stones to prevent them from covering the events.