Indigenous Maya Kaqchikel Peoples of Sumpango vs. Guatemala
A Historic Win for Indigenous Peoples' Rights to Community Media and Freedom of Expression
On December 17, 2021, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights announced its decision in the case Indigenous Maya Kaqchikel Peoples of Sumpango vs. Guatemala, declaring the Republic of Guatemala “internationally responsible for the violation of the rights to freedom of expression, equality before the law and participation in cultural life” of Indigenous Peoples.
The historic decision comes after decades of activism by members of the Indigenous community radio movement in Guatemala fighting for their freedom to operate radio stations and broadcast information in Indigenous languages to and from their communities. Currently, in Guatemala, Indigenous community radio stations are not legalized after more than 26 years since this right was guaranteed in the Guatemalan Peace Accords. Today, they continue to operate in a legal gray zone that has led to frequent persecution, disparagement, and criminalization by mainstream media conglomerates, the national police, and politicians.
The case, brought by US-based Cultural Survival, Guatemala-based Associación Sobrevivencia Cultural, and submitted with support from the Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples Clinic at Suffolk University Law School was originally filed on September 28, 2012, arguing that Guatemala’s telecommunications law excludes Indigenous Peoples from accessing their own forms of media via community radio. This came after Sobrevivencia Cultural in October 2011 submitted an action of unconstitutionality to Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, declaring economic and ethnic discrimination in the State’s mechanism for distribution of radio frequencies. The action argued that by auctioning off frequency licensees to the highest bidder, Indigenous communities, who historically and currently are among the most economically marginalized in the country, lack fair access to state-owned media.
Learn more about this precedent-setting case.
- Caso de libertad de expresión de los Pueblos Indígenas en Guatemala se decidirá en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (en español)
- Caso de Radios Comunitarias Indígenas de Guatemala en la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos tendrá audiencia los días 9 y 10 de junio de 2021 (en español)
- Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos afirma derecho de los Pueblos Indígenas a la libertad de expresión en Guatemala (en español)
- Inter-American Court of Human Rights Affirms Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Freedom of Expression in Guatemala (in English)
- Press Conference Celebrates and Clarifies Momentous Ruling by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Favor of Indigenous Communities (in English)
Radio Programs/Programas de radio
Conferencia de prensa