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Fighting impunity and promoting knowledge of legislation and justice mechanisms in order to improve safety of journalists and freedom of the press in Guatemala

Year when project approved: 
Approved budget: 
US$12 100.00

In 2011 Guatemala descended 20 positions in the world classification of press freedom as developed by Reporters without Borders. In the period (2008-2011) a total of 8 journalists were reported assassinated, of whom none have had their case solved, with the number of violations against freedom of expression increasing to 179 cases of aggression.

Several reports point towards the fact, that many subjects such as organized crime, corruption, impunity and human rights violations are subjects that are not covered and present in the media. Journalists in Guatemala face violent attacks, and including retaliation on their person, family or property, for filling out their role in the rebuilding of a democratic and plural Guatemala. Many journalists receive systematic threats, and see themselves forced to impose self-censorship, severely damaging the development of the country and the guarantee of human rights and freedom of expression for all its citizens.

The problems are worsened and partly maintained because of an inadequate and lack of de facto guarantee for press freedom by the state, that should always be recognized as responsible for ensuring the right environment for guaranteeing the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. Among the challenges of ensuring these freedoms are the penetrating impunity and failure to bring perpetrators to justice, inadequate access to information, poor journalistic training and a general lack of knowledge and education in the role and responsibility of the media, safety for journalists, legal framework and safety response mechanisms. National institutions argue that these problems are especially severe in the countryside.

As a country classified as post-conflict, recovering from 36 years of internal conflict, the development of a democratic governed country working to put an end to systematic and structural violence, poverty and human indignity, these elements affecting journalists and the general media in exercising their freedom of expression are severely damaging the construction of an informed, active and engages citizenry.

This project will adopt a system wide approach, combining top-down with bottom-up, interventions to attempt to tackle the problem. The state of Guatemala will be supported in its compliance with the IPDC´s decisions on the safety of journalists and the Issue of impunity; while the interventions will empower the overall communication sector on national and international protection framework, mechanisms, rights and best practice. The empowerment will be targeted on current practitioners and students, but an important element is to support the development of material to be included into the national curriculum for future generations.

Project details
IPDC Bureau meeting nº: 

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Source of funds:

Beneficiary name: 
CERIGUA (Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala)
Beneficiary description: 

CERIGUA is an Alternative Information Center that develops communication and informational projects, consultancies, situation analysis, research, monitoring, training workshops and journalistic genres, among others, while promoting the defense of the right of freedom of speech, press and access to information, all essential pillars in the process of building a sound democracy. It was founded in August, 1983, in the context of the internal armed conflict in order to raise awareness of human rights violations and genocide. The vision of CERIGUA is a just and equal Guatemala, with a real, functional and participatory democracy and respect for human rights. Its mission is to support the realization of the free and balanced exercise of the right to freedom of expression, through advocacy and journalism, to bring about change and building a fair and inclusive society. CERIGUA has expertise in promoting and defending freedom of expression, and is today a national and international reference on the issue. The agency is a member of the IFEX network, the largest of its kind in the defense of freedom of expression in Guatemala.

Beneficiary address: 
2ª. Calle 1-42 zona 1, Guatemala City, Guatemala

Beneficiary country:

Location and contacts
Responsible UNESCO Regional advisers: 

UNESCO Guatemala Office (Contact: guatemala@unesco.org)

UNESCO Field Office:

Project contacts: 

Ileana Alamilla and Melissa Vega, CERIGUA and UNESCO Guatemala (guatemala@unesco.org)