US Raises Concerns for Journalists and Corruption Fighters in Guatemala


A US State Department official on Wednesday expressed concern over journalists, corruption fighters and activists in Guatemala who have recently been the target of government fire.

Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary of State for Civil Security, Democracy and Human Rights, said she had stressed the need for transparency and accountability during a four-day visit to Guatemala. The administration of US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stressed the need to tackle corruption in Guatemala and other Central American countries as part of an effort to stem record levels of migration from the region.

“The recent developments in Guatemala regarding threats and spurious lawsuits against journalists, human rights defenders and anti-corruption champions are worrying,” Zeya said in a statement from the US Embassy. United in Guatemala Wednesday evening. Guatemala’s attorney general’s office told Reuters it had always acted objectively, impartially and strictly in accordance with the law, and had an obligation to investigate complaints.

This did not mean he was engaging in political persecution, but rather doing his duty, the office added in a statement. The Guatemalan presidency has declared that it respects freedom of expression and journalism, as well as the independence of powers and the legal mandate of each institution.

The Foreign Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Guatemala’s Attorney General Maria Porras has previously dismissed US criticism, describing it as the work of the US State Department, not Biden. President Alejandro Giammattei called criticism of Guatemalan prosecutors unfair.

In July, Guatemala’s attorney general dismissed an internationally renowned anti-corruption prosecutor from his post as head of the anti-corruption unit. He then fled the country. Guatemalan officials said on Tuesday they sought to indict former prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval with fraud, conspiracy and abuse of power.

Two well-known journalists who vigorously criticize the government recently said they were the target of criminal investigations, and police arrested three activists last month.

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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