[WHRD Alert] GUATEMALA / Attorney General seeks to criminalize Community Press and Ruda GT in context of the “USAC Takeover Case: Political Booty.”

Last November 21st, the La Hora news media posted a communication from Judge Victor Manuel Cruz Rivera requested by the Attorney General of Guatemala and head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office and addressed to the social media platform now known as X (formerly Twitter), in which information is sought regarding several different user profiles of this platform. These include the feminist digital media Ruda GT (Ruda of Guatemala), Community Press, and the daily newspaper La Hora, along with the journalist Leslie Sánchez of Guatevisión and the recently deceased Representative Lucrecia Hernández Mack. The request falls within criminal offense 01070-2023-00023, which identifies the Case of the Takeover of the University of San Carlos (USAC): Political Booty.

Both Ruda GT and Prensa Comunitaria are independent media of the Km 169 News Agency, a national and regional community communication point of reference with a feminist human rights perspective. As we denounced in an alert posted last July, both media have faced ongoing attacks that include defamation, criminalization, pursuit, and other acts of surveillance against their members.

The relationship of these independent media to the “USAC Takeover Case: Political Booty” is alarming and reveals a heightened risk level faced by both of them and their members. Let’s not forget that in connection with this case the Public Prosecutor’s Office has issued arrest warrants for 27 people, including trade union members, activists, and politicians opposed to the Alejandro Giammattei government who are all related to the process of resistance at San Carlos University. Six of them have been arrested. The Office has also insisted on the withdrawal of the right of pre-trial immunity for Bernardo Arévalo and Karin Herrera, President and Vice President elect of Guatemala, respectively.

Neither should we forget other actions of the Public Prosecutor’s Office under Attorney General Consuelo Porras. Last August we denounced her intention to criminalize journalists and human rights defenders who question her actions in their social networks. The functionary then presented a protective writ before Guatemala’s Supreme Court in which she demanded the adoption of “protective measures to guarantee the Independence of the Public Prosecutor’s Office” which, according to her, “has been violated by different social networks utilized by persons who identify with the social network Twitter, now known as X, among others.”

It is important to note that Consuelo Porras and the Public Prosecutor’s Office are heading up a coup d’etat that is underway through the criminalization of officers elect of the government in an effort to undermine popular sovereignty and sustain the arrangement referred to as the “pact of the corrupt” that has plundered the country for decades. In this context, they are also criminalizing all those who denounce their arbitrary measures, including journalists, news media, and participants in protest demonstrations that have filled the streets of the country for weeks with demands for an end to corruption and respect for the will of the people expressed at the polls.

For all of the above, we of IM-Defensoras demand an immediate end to any action whatsoever of the Public Prosecutor’s Office that seeks to criminalize Ruda GT, Community Press, and any other news media or human rights defender network exercising its legitimate right to inform and defend human rights.

We also call on the international community to stand in support of the KM 169 News Agency and its members, and to stay abreast of the situation in Guatemala.

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