Then presidential candidate Alejandro Giammattei speaks to reporters in Guatemala City on August 11, 2019. CPJ recently joined a statement calling on President Giammattei to strengthen protections for journalists in the country. (Reuters/Jose Cabezas)

CPJ, Human Rights Watch call on Guatemala to improve press freedom, access to information

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Human Rights Watch today issued a joint statement calling on Guatemalan authorities to stop harassing the press, strengthen protections for journalists, and ensure the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic does not restrict press freedom or access to information.

The statement notes that the administration of President Alejandro Giammattei, who has been in office for just over a year, has failed to provide investigators and prosecutors with the resources necessary to strengthen protections for journalists and investigate attacks on the press, and that government officials’ anti-press rhetoric has increased since the pandemic reached the country in March 2020.

Officials have repeatedly restricted coverage of government events and have failed to provide the press and the public with timely information about COVID-19 measures and cases, CPJ and HRW write.

The statement urges Guatemalan authorities to take concrete steps to address these concerns, including ensuring that elected officials and security forces do not harass journalists, collecting and publicizing reliable information about attacks on the press, and providing adequate funding and resources for the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Journalists.

The full statement is available in English and Spanish.