Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 28/15



R 28/15




Washington, D.C., March 12, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of journalists Danilo López and Federico Salazar, which took place on March 10 in the Mazatenango district, department of Suchitepequez, Guatemala. The Office expresses its concern and urges the Guatemalan authorities to act promptly and timely to establish the motive of the crime, to implement all the legal instruments available to identify the perpetrators behind it and to determine if this attack was linked to the exercise of the journalistic profession.


According to the information received, the journalists were covering a governmental event in Suchitepequez central park, in front of the local government’s offices and a few meters away from a Police station, when they were gunned reportedly by two men that fled after shooting. Another journalist, Marvin Túnchez, was injured in the attack and taken to a hospital.


Danilo López worked in Prensa Libre newspaper and had said he had been threatened previously by a former mayor due to articles in which he informed about bad practices made by government officials, something that he had denounced to the authorities. Federico Salazar worked for Radio Nuevo Mundo station and there was no knowledge of him receiving threats. They both were members of the Suchitepequez Press Association [Asociación de Prensa de Suchitepéquez], a recently created union where they were vice president and secretary, respectively.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the State to clarify the motive for this crime; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim's family.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists also in the necessity to put into action the "Journalist Protection Plan" [Plan para la Protección de Periodistas], to have resources and the appropriate frame for it to function and to be appointed to guarantee the integrity of those that are threatened due to their journalistic activity, among other roles. These deaths come after several aggressions to journalists in Guatemala during the last year.


Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.