IAPA Urges Guatemalan President Due Process in José Rubén Zamora Case


Miami (February 8, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) urged Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei to ask the Public Prosecutor's Office "to adhere to legality, transparency, and due process" in the case against journalist and editor of elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora, who has been imprisoned for more than six months.

IAPA President Michael Greenspon and the chairman of the organization's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information sent a letter to President Giammattei in which they questioned the irregularities in the judicial process against Zamora. In the letter, they remind Giammattei that he committed to guaranteeing press and expression freedoms when he signed the Declaration of Chapultepec in 2015.

Text of the letter:

"Mr. President,

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) urges you, within the framework of the Declaration of Chapultepec that you signed in 2015, to request the Public Prosecutor's Office to guarantee transparency and due process in the case against the journalist and editor of elPeriódico, José Rubén Zamora, imprisoned since July 29, 2022.

We regret not having been able to meet with you during our recent mission to Guatemala. However, we wanted to express our concern about this case, which we understand contravenes Inter-American standards on freedom of expression and conditions for the free exercise of journalistic activity, as well as the citizen's right to be informed on matters of public interest.

During that visit, we warned about irregularities we detected in the judicial process and made known in our conclusions. We stressed then, before the authorities of the country and the Public Prosecutor's Office, that "the government must put an end to legal and judicial harassment," a situation that we continue to observe with the recent accusations against Zamora's lawyers.

We also warned that "if Justice does not act independently and is only an instrument of other powers, it will end up inducing self-censorship in other media and journalists who investigate power."

The IAPA reached these conclusions after following the case since Zamora was imprisoned and based on the interviews we conducted during our exploratory mission. These included dialogues with the Vice President of the Republic, Guillermo Castillo Reyes, other state officials, the Attorney General, Consuelo Porras, and her team of collaborators.

We also gathered information in meetings with members of the Presidential Commission for Peace and Human Rights (COPADEH) and with representatives of the Constitutional Court, diplomats, business people, dignitaries of the Catholic Church, media executives, and journalists. In addition, we were present at the public hearing held on December 8, 2022, for the case against Zamora, and that same day we were able to visit him in prison.

In the Chapultepec Declaration spirit, which states that "no news media nor journalist may be punished for publishing the truth, criticizing, or denouncing the government," we insist on our exhortation to demand that the Public Prosecutor Office adhere to legality, transparency, and due process in the Zamora case.

In a letter sent to you on August 18, 2022, we said: "we will continue to follow the development of Zamora's case to ensure that his rights and physical safety are respected, that he has an independent and fair judicial process, and that freedom of the press is guaranteed in the country, fundamental for the existence of a democratic society."

We trust that you will honor the commitment you made seven years ago by signing the text of the Declaration and ratifying your respect for freedom of expression."

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.