Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 35/15



R 35/15





Washington, D.C., March 23, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of reporter Guido Villatoro, which took place on March 13 in the Chicacao district, department of Suchitepequez, Guatemala.


The Office expresses its great concern as it is the third killing of a journalist during the same week in that country, and in the same department, 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 and to determine if this attack was linked to the exercise of the journalistic profession.


According to the information received, Villatoro (20) was shot outside the pay television station Servicable, where he worked as a cameraman. The reporter was taken to a hospital, where he died.


The Police detained three suspects of being the murderers, according to a spokesperson from that institution. They also caught recently another reportedly implied in the crime, according to the Ministry of Government’s Twitter account.


The Ministry of Government of Guatemala informed that an attention unit for press that will have a direct link with the Police, and that it will strengthen security in Suchitepéquez. Also, they said the "Journalist Protection Plan" [Plan para la Protección de Periodistas] is already designed "to be socialized and put into action."


The Office of the Special Rapporteur reaffirms once again the necessity to put into action the "Journalist Protection Plan", with the resources and the appropriate framework 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.


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.


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.