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Guatemala


For the second time this year, the U.N. Security Council took up the issue of protection of journalists. In a discussion today sponsored by the French and Guatemalan delegations, and open to NGOs, speaker after speaker and country after country hammered home the same essential facts: The vast majority of journalists murdered around the world are local reporters working in their own country, covering human rights, corruption, conflict and politics. In nine out of ten of these murders, no one is ever prosecuted.

A soldier patrols a lake in the town of Panajachel, where journalist Lucía Escobar used to live. (AFP/Orlando Sierra)

For seven years I lived in Panajachel, a tourist town on the beautiful Atitlán Lake in Guatemala. There, my husband, Juan Miguel Arrivillaga, and I started a family and the independent news outlet Anti Magazine. We also hosted a radio program on the local station Radio Ati.

Combating impunity has been a long and difficult process, full of obstacles and problems. At the national level it has not been easy, so much of our work is carried out using the supranational tools that we helped develop. They began taking shape through international intergovernmental declarations, in conclusions reached by international legislative and judicial conferences and, especially, in opinions and decisions of the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Commission.

José Rubén Zamora in 2003. (Reuters)Two days after being abducted and badly beaten in Guatemala, prominent journalist José Rubén Zamora was still in shock. "I can't remember what happened, but I was drugged and left unconscious in a hospital in the outskirts of Guatemala City," he told me on Saturday after he was released from the local hospital.

His colleagues at the daily elPeriodico and members of the local media were stunned by the news on Thursday. Rumors had spread that morning that Zamora had been killed. Claudia Mendez, an editor at the paper, told me that she started crying. Zamora, a 1995 recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award, is considered one of the top investigative journalists in Central America by his peers.

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