New York, January 16, 2018–The arrest of a lawmaker accused of plotting the murders of two journalists in 2015 is an important step against impunity in Guatemala, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Guatemalan authorities arrested Congressman Julio Juárez Ramírez, who allegedly ordered the attack that killed Danilo López and Federico Salazar, near his home on the morning of January 13 and charged him with murder, according to reports.
“Too often cases of journalist murders in the Northern Triangle of Central America end with the conviction of some low-level gun for hire, or in total impunity,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. “The arrest of the alleged mastermind is a significant step toward justice for Danilo López and Federico Salazar. We hope Guatemalan authorities will pursue all those responsible, and break the cycle of impunity with this case.”
López, a reporter for the Guatemala City newspaper Prensa Libre, and Salazar, a reporter for the Guatemala City station Radio Nuevo Mundo, were shot and killed by two unidentified gunman while walking in a park in Mazatenango, the capital of southwest Suchitepéquez department, in March 2015, CPJ documented at the time.
According to investigators with the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Juárez ordered the attack on López because he was working on a story about corruption in the local government of Santo Tomás La Unión where Juárez was mayor at the time. In December 2017, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned Juárez under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for his alleged involvement in the murders.