IACHR Completes Visit to Guatemala to Monitor Compliance With Precautionary Measures Concerning José Rubén Zamora Marroquín

February 20, 2024

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) conducted a working visit to Guatemala to monitor compliance with precautionary measures in favor of José Rubén Zamora Marroquín. This official mission was conducted on February 12–13, 2024, at the invitation of the country's current government. The IACHR delegation was led by Executive Secretary Tania Reneaum Panszi and also featured the Commission's Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Pedro Vaca, and members of the Executive Secretariat's technical staff.

Zamora Marroquín is the founder of the Guatemalan newspaper El Periódico. He is the only journalist and beneficiary of precautionary measures who is currently being deprived of liberty in the country. The IACHR notes that Zamora Marroquín was arrested in the context of dwindling judicial independence that was identified in the Commission's annual reports for 2021 and 2022. This context affects the right to freedom of expression and has created in Guatemala an atmosphere marked by censorship.

The delegation traveled to the prison facility that operates in the Mariscal Zavala barracks to meet with Zamora Marroquín, listen to his impressions about his current conditions of detention, and generally talk to him about these precautionary measures.

Later, the IACHR met with the authorities of State institutions involved in implementing these precautionary measures. Meetings with the IACHR delegation were attended by high officials and other representatives of the Presidential Commission for Peace and Human Rights, the Public Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Public Health and Social Welfare, the Judicial Board, the Institute of Public Defenders in Criminal Law, and the National Institute of Forensic Science. The IACHR called on all attending institutions to develop platforms for coordination in order to continue to implement precautionary measures through honest, transparent, and constructive dialogue.

The Guatemalan President met with the IACHR delegation at the end of the first day of meetings. The delegation shared its concerns about Zamora Marroquín's life and integrity, particularly given his current health condition. The IACHR also thanked the government for its openness to host the Commission delegation, which launches a new era in relations and shows a State that is open to international scrutiny and committed to human rights. The meeting with the Guatemalan President also included talks about an upcoming on-site visit by the plenary of the IACHR.

The Commission stressed the need for the State to do all it can to ensure the independence of the different branches of government and to protect freedom of expression, to end criminal persecution of judicial officers, rights defenders, and journalists, and to implement transparency mechanisms in public management.

The President stressed his openness and his commitment to human rights, as well as his willingness to commit government efforts to protect Zamora Marroquín and to ensure that the IACHR's upcoming visit is successful.

Finally, the delegation listened to civil society organizations, journalists, and various lawyers who had worked in Zamora Marroquín's defense in the past. The visit coincided with World Radio Day and included a tribute event attended by Special Rapporteur Pedro Vaca.

The Commission appreciates this chance for dialogue at the highest level and thanks the State of Guatemala for enabling efforts to monitor these precautionary measures, as well as for its support in terms of logistics and of ensuring a successful visit. The IACHR further appreciates all the information it received during the visit, which will be assessed in broader efforts to monitor these precautionary measures.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 037/24

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