AMERICA/GUATEMALA - For the Bishops "freedom of expression and of the press are the fundamental principles of a democratic system"

Tuesday, 2 August 2022 freedom of the press   episcopal conferences  

Guatemala City (Agenzia Fides) - The concern of the Bishops of Guatemala for the attack on freedom of the press in the country was expressed in a statement from the Bishops' Conference of Guatemala, signed by the President and the Secretary General, referring to the arrest of Rubén Zamora, director of the newspaper “El Periódico”. "Regardless of the reasons given by the representative of the Special Prosecutor's Office against Impunity (FECI)" the bishops write, they end up "de facto attacking freedom of the press in the country and creating an atmosphere of anxiety and fear in the media of social communication".
Journalist Rubén Zamora, founder and director of the newspaper 'El Periódico', critical of the Guatemalan government, was arrested on the afternoon of July 29 at his home, which was registered as the newspaper's headquarters. The bank accounts were frozen and Zamora is accused of money laundering. According to the prosecution, Zamora is being tried as a businessman and not as a journalist. The bishops point out in the statement sent to Agenzia Fides that "the leading role of the Anti-Terrorism Foundation in this, as in many other previous cases of persecution of justice operators, gives this foundation a hegemonic role in the administration processes of Justice". This hegemonic role leaves the Public Ministry and the Judicial Body in conditions of precariousness and even submission, instead of the necessary independence and impartiality. Many citizens and legal professionals consider that the self-proclaimed arguments of justice and the supremacy of law "are motivated more by a spirit of revenge than as impartial acts of administration of justice". Actions such as those that occurred on the afternoon of Friday, July 29, cast doubt on the extent to which there is an effective rule of law in the country, observe the bishops, who reiterate: "Fighting for the common good, respecting democracy and defending the rule of law, are priorities for the State of Guatemala in its distinct bodies: judicial, legislative and executive. When, in the past these criteria were lost in our history, we entered the fatal times of dictatorships".
The statement of the Episcopal Conference of Guatemala concludes by affirming that "freedom of expression and freedom of the press constitute basic principles of a democratic system," and they hope that in the case of journalist Zamora, the criteria of the law will be followed, "in such a way that the law begins to enjoy the credibility that unfortunately it has lost on many occasions". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 2/8/2022)