Miami (August 29, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) considered as a severe precedent and abuse of privilege of the attorney general of Guatemala a request to the Constitutional Court. The official asked the high judicial body to order the use of public force against public demonstrations and to silence criticisms on social media against her work and of her close associates.
The IAPA highlighted that the Court rejected the provisional protection requested by the official and indicated that the demonstrators mentioned in the request did not jeopardize the work of the Public Prosecutor's Office and legitimately exercised their right to freedom of expression.
The attorney general and head of the Public Prosecutor's Office, Consuelo Porras, filed on August 24 a writ of Amparo before the Constitutional Court (CC) because her functions have been violated through attacks on social media, especially on X (formerly Twitter), which are also calling for demonstrations against her and other officials.
Michael Greenspon, president of the IAPA, criticized Porras' action as an "abuse of privilege" and also because, if approved, it could become "a serious precedent against freedom of expression." Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing and Print Innovation of The New York Times, added: "This contradicts the freedoms of expression and association, two fundamental pillars invoked by the Inter-American system as inviolable human rights."
Intending to preserve his security and the independence of her institution, Porras demanded that President Alejandro Giammattei, the Minister of the Interior, Napoleón Barrientos, and the director of the National Civil Police, Edwin Adriano López, use public force, when necessary and exceptionally, against non-peaceful demonstrations, to protect her and the independence of the institution she is serving. She also requested protection for the head of the Special Prosecutor's Office Against Impunity (FECI), Rafael Curruchiche, and prosecutor Cinthia Monterroso. Porras urged the Human Rights Ombudsman to request protection from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Press Freedom and Information and editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, Carlos Jornet, said: "It is unusual to ask the IACHR for protection when the systematic violation of human rights and Inter-American standards by these officials has been made public."
Last year, Porras, Curruchiche, and Monterroso were included in the Engel List of the U.S. State Department, designed to identify and sanction those involved in corruption and attacks against democracy.
Greenspon and Jornet warned that if Porras' protection were to go forward, it could create a negative precedent to neutralize and criminally prosecute those who criticize her, being citizens, journalists, media, or organizations. They recalled that, as established in the IACHR's Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression and the IAPA's Declaration of Salta, public officials, whether elected or appointed, are exposed to greater societal scrutiny and should be open to criticism.
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.