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  • Sandra Torres is one of the leading candidates in polls ahead of June elections.

    Sandra Torres is one of the leading candidates in polls ahead of June elections. | Photo: EFE

Published 11 May 2019

"Unfortunately in Guatemala there is a history of public figures who improperly use laws ...  with the aim of gagging the media," Elvira of SIP said.

Guatemalan ombudsman, media associations, and international organizations decried the lack of press freedom in the country Friday after a justice prohibited a morning newspaper from publishing information about leading presidential candidate Sandra Torres.

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The ombudsman Jordan Rodas, a human rights attorney, said the resolution of an appeals chamber that favored Torres, who is leading in the polls and is expected to win the elections June 16, "demonstrates the ignorance of the human right to freedom of expression, clearly enshrined in the Political Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala, in its article 35," Prensa Libre reported.

The president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, said the measure "uses the law to censure the criticisms she does not tolerate and, in passing (the reform), the Constitution and the Law of Emission are disregarded."

The Inter-American Press Association (SIP) also expressed its condemnation of the court order prohibiting the newspaper from publishing information about Torres, and affirmed that the measure upheld a political strategy intending to censor and intimidate the press.

"Unfortunately in Guatemala there is a history of public figures who improperly use in their favor laws intended for other purposes with the aim of gagging the media that investigate and denounce or comment on corruption in public administration," said SIP president Maria Elvira Dominguez in a statement.

In February, Torres the candidate of the Social Democracy National Unity of Hope (UNE)  filed a complaint with the court against six editors of the newspaper El Periodico. The complaint was initially rejected and filed away but was later endorsed by judges of the Second Appeals Chamber.

Mario Alejandro Sandoval, vice president of the Chamber, said resolution in favor of Torres by the Chamber is a "terrible action" for democracy, and more for the Guatemalan people.

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