Transparency International is gravely concerned by recent arrests of prominent figures in Guatemala. Journalist and El Periódico president José Rubén Zamora and his newspaper have been leaders in exposing corruption. Assistant prosecutor Samari Carolina Gómez was arrested in connection to the case against Rubén Zamora. Their detentions signal a worrisome pattern of attacks on freedom of the press and against independent justice operators in Guatemala.
Due process in their cases has already been marred. Provisions allowing for concealment in such cases led to a delay in the public announcement of charges – making it more difficult to prepare the defence. Furthermore, the Guatemalan government has demonstrated a worrying willingness to allow prosecutors accused of corruption – most recently on the United States’ Engel List – to continue to lead.
Transparency International calls for a transparent judicial process for Rubén Zamora and Gómez. The government must take further steps to stop the attacks on basic human rights and restore the freedoms of expression and of the press in Guatemala.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said:
“A free and independent press is a cornerstone of democracy that helps to hold leaders to account. The arrests of José Rubén Zamora and Samari Carolina Gómez mark a further erosion of fundamental rights and another attempt by the government of Guatemala to silence criticism, restrict freedom of information and obstruct the prosecution of corruption."
Note to Editors
- Since 2012, Guatemala has declined on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index to a low of just 25 out of 100. See more analysis: https://www.transparency.org/en/news/cpi-2021-americas-a-region-in-crisis
- In May, the president reappointed Attorney General María Consuelo Porras despite her inclusion on the Engel’s List