Guatemalan regulation to guard ladies is used in opposition to reporters


It was a landmark piece of laws for Guatemala: a regulation that established stiff jail sentences for violence in opposition to ladies and appeared to sign a brand new period for a rustic nonetheless rising from a long time of civil conflict and navy rule. Hundreds of males have been prosecuted below the regulation because it took impact in 2008.

However in recent times, public officers have discovered one other use for it: stopping journalists from criticizing them or investigating corruption.

Courts have issued restraining orders in opposition to reporters at information organizations right here, successfully shutting down their work, after ladies argued that the journalists violated the regulation by publishing articles that subjected them to psychological violence. The Los Angeles Occasions discovered eight such examples.

Marvin del Cid (L) and Sonny Figueroa (R) during an interview

Journalists Marvin del Cid, left, and Sonny Figueroa within the workplace of Vox Populi, a digital investigative outlet in Guatemala Metropolis.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

“We have been investigating varied circumstances, however we needed to cease,” stated Sonny Figueroa, an editor on the information website Vox Populi who was hit with a restraining order final yr after he and a colleague printed a narrative hinting at authorities corruption.

The article stated that in 2020, when Luis Miguel Martinez was a high official within the government department, his mother and father moved from a modest home to an opulent one owned by a Guatemalan diplomat, Demci Arnoldo López Villatoro.

López didn’t reply to the publication’s questions in regards to the association, and the journalists have been unable to seek out Martinez, in keeping with the article, which provided no proof {that a} crime had been dedicated.

In a petition for a restraining order, Martinez’s mom and sister stated they couldn’t sleep and have been experiencing panic assaults; they accused Figueroa and his reporting accomplice, Marvin del Cid, of discrediting them “earlier than Guatemalan society” and inflicting them “irreversible psychological harm.”

The decide ordered each reporters to not “disturb or intimidate” the ladies or their kinfolk, making no exception for Martinez. The reporters appealed, and two months later the decide lifted the order, ruling that the 2 “have achieved investigative work and their publications don’t include any misogynistic act.”

Advocates for press freedom argue that misusing the femicide regulation to silence reporters is an element of a bigger menace to Guatemala’s fledgling democracy.

The nation was lengthy dominated by navy regimes that carried out a brutal marketing campaign in opposition to villages suspected of supporting leftist guerrillas. The conflict, which lasted greater than three a long time and claimed 200,000 lives, resulted in 1996 with a peace accord.

For the subsequent twenty years or so, the nation sputtered alongside in that path, holding free elections, establishing a reality fee to make peace with the previous and partnering with the United Nations to type an anticorruption fee that strengthened the judiciary and led a president to resign.

However for the final a number of years, democracy in Guatemala has been backsliding.

Essentially the most important blow got here in 2019, when then-President Jimmy Morales expelled the U.N. fee after it started investigating him for unlawful marketing campaign financing.

Marvin del Cid looks at a Vox Populi photograph of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

Marvin del Cid appears at a Vox Populi {photograph} of Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

Heavy-handed rule has continued below his successor, Alejandro Giammattei, and the USA issued sanctions in opposition to Guatemala’s lawyer common after she fired the nation’s high anticorruption prosecutor.

When it was handed in 2008, the Regulation in opposition to Femicide and Different Types of Violence In opposition to Ladies was broadly hailed as an development for ladies in a rustic with excessive charges of gender-based assaults and killings.

The regulation, which arrange specialised courts for such crimes, goals to guard ladies not solely from bodily hurt however from what it calls “psychological violence.”

A responsible verdict for psychological violence carries a sentence of as much as eight years in jail. Judges should contemplate such components as whether or not the aggressor tried to type an intimate relationship with the sufferer.

The regulation requires “a gender part and for the person to really feel superior to the girl,” stated Corinne Dedik, a researcher on the Middle for Nationwide Financial Investigations, a Guatemalan suppose tank that has studied the regulation and located that prosecutors final yr obtained practically 60,000 complaints below it.

Few might think about that the femicide regulation can be used to close down journalists.

One of many earliest circumstances got here in 2013, when then-Vice President Roxana Baldetti gained a restraining order in opposition to José Rubén Zamora, the founding father of El Periódico. Baldetti alleged that studies within the newspaper that have been important of her amounted to psychological violence.

Baldetti was finally sentenced to fifteen years in jail after being convicted of corruption fees for a rip-off involving the cleanup of a contaminated lake.

However that vindication of Zamora didn’t cease different feminine politicians from utilizing the femicide regulation to acquire restraining orders in opposition to him and different journalists at El Periódico, which has about 30,000 print and digital subscribers.

Former Guatemalan vice-president Roxana Baldetti (C)

Former Guatemalan Vice President Roxana Baldetti after being sentenced in 2018 to fifteen years and 6 months in jail for illicit affiliation, affect peddling and fraud.

(Johan Ordonex / AFP/Getty Pictures)

A number of, together with Sandra Jovel, who was overseas minister on the time, stated they have been insulted by tales that appeared in a satirical part referred to as “El Peladero” (the Peeler).

In her 2018 petition in opposition to Zamora, Jovel included an El Periódico article that mentioned her antagonism towards the pinnacle of the U.N.-backed anticorruption fee and stated it was embarrassing that Guatemala was represented “by somebody so pathetic, grotesque and with evident and extreme mental limits like Sandra Jovel.”

One other submission, with the headline “The Gestapo within the overseas ministry,” stated Jovel had applied a “reign of terror” by prohibiting underlings from speaking to journalists or human rights activists.

Journalist Ruben Zamora is photographed

Journalist José Ruben Zamora after his arrest in Guatemala Metropolis.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

A decide dominated in her favor, prohibiting Zamora from going to her office or intimidating her.

The ladies on this report who filed restraining orders in opposition to journalists both didn’t reply to requests for remark or declined to be interviewed.

Guatemalan former presidential candidate and former Guatemalan First Lady Sandra Torres (C) attends a hearing

Former First Girl Sandra Torres attends a 2019 listening to after being arrested on fees associated to marketing campaign financing.

(Johan Ordonez / AFP/Getty Pictures)

In 2019, Sandra Torres, a former first girl who was operating for president, was upset about a number of El Periódico articles, together with one which referred to her as “the tarantula Torres” and one which referred to as her a “horrible Medusa” and stated she can be in jail for corruption.

Following public backlash in regards to the restraining order she was granted, Torres dropped her case, citing her “dedication to freedom of the press.” That didn’t cease the newspaper from publishing the front-page headline “You gained’t silence us” in daring letters, with an image of a hand holding a quill below the blade of a guillotine.

Guatemalan journalists say that if the topics of their articles take difficulty with the reporting, they’re welcome to file defamation claims. Such circumstances are uncommon, partly as a result of they typically get stalled within the paperwork of the authorized system, in keeping with Hector Coloj, who paperwork assaults on press freedom for the Assn. of Journalists of Guatemala.

He stated feminine politicians have figured they stand a greater probability within the femicide regulation courts.

A worker at the el Periodico newspaper's printing press reviews last details before they are packed for distribution

An worker at El Periódico’s printing plant critiques newspapers.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

Demonstrators stage a protest in support of journalist Ruben Zamora and press freedoms

A 2021 rally in Guatemala Metropolis in help of press freedom.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

“It’s simpler,” he stated. “The femicide regulation took a few years to be accepted, and it was accepted due to all of the machista violence. … It’s a regulation that’s given quite a lot of significance to cease gender violence from rising.”

Natalie Southwick, a Latin American specialist on the Committee to Shield Journalists, stated she might consider no authorized rationale for why a decide would grant such restraining orders.

“It’s completely an abusive manipulation of this regulation,” she stated. “It is a regulation meant to guard and supply victims some type of redress of gender-based violence. It’s positively not meant to guard highly effective individuals from criticism within the media, which is how we’ve seen it’s utilized in these circumstances.”

The Occasions despatched interview requests to a number of of the judges who granted restraining orders, however none responded.

Workers at the el Periodico newspaper's printing press review last details before they are packed for distribution

Workers at El Periódico’s printing plant examine the colour on the newspapers.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

The primary time Alejandra Carrillo filed for a restraining order in opposition to the administrators of the tiny newspaper La Hora, the court docket rejected her petition.

Carrillo had objected to a sequence of articles about her management of the Sufferer’s Institute, a authorities company that gives authorized help to crime victims.

The articles stated prosecutors have been investigating the group for questionable accounting and hiring practices and {that a} former assistant who was serving to them — and had testified that Carrillo had begun to construct relationships with Supreme Courtroom judges to achieve sway — was being attacked on nameless Twitter accounts. Additionally they identified that in 2021, Carrillo married a congressman who had been sanctioned by the USA for corruption.

Carrillo gained an attraction in December granting her a six-month restraining order that was renewed in June, despite the fact that the prosecutor’s workplace had filed an opinion saying there was inadequate proof that the journalists had dedicated a criminal offense.

The director of the Guatemalan newspaper La Hora, Pedro Pablo Marroquin

Pedro Pablo Marroquín, director of the Guatemalan newspaper La Hora, faces a restraining order requested by Alejandra Carrillo, director of the nation’s Sufferer’s Institute.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

Early on within the case, the paper’s director, Pedro Pablo Marroquín, wrote in an opinion piece: “It’s not the primary nor will it’s the final time that individuals with a darkish previous attempt to undermine our work, our proper to tell and specific ourselves, so we’re right here to proceed the method and proceed doing our work with professionalism, no matter the fee.”

However La Hora has stopped publishing investigations on Carrillo and the Sufferer’s Institute, and officers on the paper have declined to talk publicly in regards to the case.

The newest dust-up over the regulation entails Dina Alejandra Bosch Ochoa, who reportedly has labored as an assistant on the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, which oversees the nation’s elections.

She took difficulty with an article about her in El Periódico. It steered clear of constructing accusations however implied that she was unqualified for her job and was employed as a result of her mom is president of the Constitutional Courtroom.

Her petition for a restraining order stated the story was a part of “misogynistic campaigns” that had left her in “a everlasting state of stress and insecurity within the quick, medium and long-term that has reached my youngsters.”

Ramon Zamora, Jose Ruben Zamora's son, checks on the freshly printed newspapers

Ramon Zamora, son of El Periódico founder José Rubén Zamora, watches newspapers get printed.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

In April, a decide issued a six-month restraining order in opposition to Zamora, in addition to an editor and the reporter who wrote the story.

Today, El Periódico will not be publishing something about Bosch, stated Deputy Director Lucy Chay. Tales on delicate subjects could also be printed with out the creator’s identify if editors suppose {that a} petition for a restraining order may very well be filed.

“You don’t know which official goes to make use of the regulation,” she stated.

Zamora says officers are retaliating in opposition to him once more.

A protest during a September hearing for José Rubén Zamora.

A protest throughout a September listening to for José Rubén Zamora.

(Oliver de Ros / For The Occasions)

In July, police arrested him based mostly on testimony from a businessman who claimed that Zamora had requested him to launder about $38,000.

Zamora is in jail in Guatemala Metropolis, ready for his case to progress by means of the authorized system.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.