PEN SA Calls for Protection of Journalists in Guatemala

06 Feb 2018
PEN SA Calls for Protection of Journalists in Guatemala

“The murder of two journalists serves as a stark reminder that the Guatemalan authorities must do more to protect its journalists,” said PEN International today, after two Guatemalan journalists were murdered in Suchitepéquez last week.

PEN South Africa joins our colleagues at PEN Guatemala and PEN International in condemning the murders by gunshot of journalists Laurent Ángel Castillo Cifuentes and Luis Alfredo de León Miranda, who were found dead on 1 February 2018.

We also call on Guatemalan authorities to find and prosecute the murderers, and to ensure the physical protection of journalists, as well as lawful freedom of the press, in their country.

The following statement is taken from PEN International:

Castillo Cifuentes, 28, was a correspondent for Nuestro Diario newspaper and a cultural magazine in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango department. De León Miranda, 30, worked as a publicist for Radio Coaltepec. The two had reportedly travelled to Mazatenango, Suchitepéquez, in order to cover the carnival.

Their murders come only a few days after journalist groups and PEN Guatemala condemned statements made by Guatemala City mayor and former president, Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, who implied that the Guatemalan press are undermining the nation’s progress by slandering the nation and its leaders, and stated that “we must go over the heads of negative media outlets” during a speech delivered at a military event; evidence of the hostility that journalists in the country face.

It is fundamental that journalists are able to freely and safely exercise their profession in Guatemala, with all the guarantees of security that this implies. If the Government does not comply with that obligation, it is failing to fulfil its duty by not guaranteeing a right that is included in the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala for all Guatemalans in Articles 1 of title I, and in Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution. Title II. As well as the international treaties to which the Republic of Guatemala is subscribed,” said the PEN Guatemala.

PEN International and PEN Guatemala call on local and national authorities not only to clarify the crimes of journalists and prosecute the guilty parties, but also to guarantee their citizens’, writers’ and journalists’ right to free expression.