[WHRD Alert] GUATEMALA / Attorney General and head of Public Prosecutor’s Office, Consuelo Porras, singles out and seeks to criminalize journalists and rights defenders who question her work in social media.

Last August 24th, Consuelo Porras, the Attorney General of Guatemala and head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office, submitted a protective writ to the Constitutional Court asking that it “adopt preventive measures to safeguard the Independence of the Office.” She alleged that “this has been violated through the use of different social networks by persons who identify themselves as users of the social network Twitter, now known as X, and other social networks.” In her writ she named several different human rights defenders and journalists who have questioned in social networks her actions that reveal a clear intention to exhibit and criminalize them and to violate their right to freedom of expression. 

On August 28th, the Constitutional Court denied her claim, arguing that criticisms of the Attorney General do not give rise to public unrest (“a breach of the peace”) and fall within the scope of freedom of speech. Despite the favorable court ruling, it is cause for concern that claims like this one can emerge from a prominent public office like the one headed by Consuelo Porras with high visibility and public repercussions. A number of different persons including workers for justice, journalists, and human rights defenders have been singled out in a display of structural corruption and consolidation of authoritarianism. 

Over and above the legal framework of the claim presented by the Attorney General, it is obvious that her aim is to silence critical voices through fear and intimidation and to proceed unchallenged in her position, defined by corruption and the lies that she tells.  Her actions are fundamental for fortifying the agreement known as “the pact of the corrupt” that has prevailed in the country for several years; these corrupt officials now see their power threatened by the victory of the leftist Semillas party in recent elections. Let us not forget that the Attorney General is carrying out arbitrary legal proceedings against this political force, thereby violating the underpinnings of democracy and the sovereignty of the people expressed at the polls. 

We of IM-Defensoras hereby denounce the arbitrary and illegal conduct of Consuelo Porras and demand her immediate resignation along with guarantees for the security and freedom of expression of human rights defenders and journalists in Guatemala. 

We call on the international community to stay alert to the situation in this country, where a coup d’etat could be in the making by representatives of public institutions in alliance with economic and military powers-that-be in an effort to avoid political change legitimately won through the will of the people. 

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