Tuesday 1.11.2016 in Expression in Guatemala Country Page
Although the right to freedom of expression is recognised in the Constitution of Guatemala, both legal and de facto restrictions abound. Among the former are prohibitions against broadcasts that offend civic values, national symbols, morals, and good etiquette, while defamation remains a criminal offence punishable with fines and imprisonment. Media ownership is highly concentrated in private conglomerates, and community radio stations – which are not even recognised under the 2012 General Telecommunications Law – are increasingly under attack, especially in communities involved in land and environmental conflicts. Journalists are routinely threatened, intimidated, judicially harassed, and even physically assaulted by both state and non-state actors. In the first half of 2016, 5 media workers were killed. Levels of self-censorship are high in areas where organised crime is prevalent, especially where its activity concerns issues such as drug trafficking, corruption, and human rights violations. An Access to Information Law was passed in 2008, but obtaining government-held information remains difficult. While Internet access is unrestricted, news websites are increasingly targeted by cyber-attacks, and online editors and reporters are also threatened and assaulted.