On the occasion of World Radio Day 2023, the Community Radio Movement in Guatemala makes it known that the right to freedom of expression of Indigenous Peoples is a human right that unfortunately the State of Guatemala violates and denies Indigenous Peoples. Since the Peace Accords, the State has promised to provide frequencies without a positive response to date. The community radio stations had to present a partial unconstitutionality appeal to the General Telecommunications Law in the Constitutional Court of Guatemala, which resolved a Warrant to provide frequencies to Indigenous Peoples, as the criminalization of community radio stations continued, the case was filed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which accepted the complaint and transferred it to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court).
On October 6, 2021, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found Guatemala responsible for violations of the rights to freedom of expression, equality before the law, and participation in the cultural life of Maya Kaqchikel communities of Sumpango Sacatepéquez, Maya Mam communities of Todos Saints Cuchumatán, Huehuetenango, Maya Mam communities from Cajolá, Quetzaltenango and Maya Achi communities from San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz; in the case called Maya Kaqchikel People of Sumpango et al. v. Guatemala.
In the ruling, the Court ordered the State: 1). Legally recognize Indigenous community radio stations, 2). Publish the judgment (both in Spanish and Mayan languages) on a variety of platforms, 3). Stop criminal proceedings against Indigenous community radio stations 4). Revoke previous convictions of community communicators, 5). Compensate four victim communities. All of the above must have been fulfilled before December 17, 2022.
Therefore, WE DENOUNCE:
- That the State has NOT published the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, in Mayan and Spanish languages in the Official Gazette and another newspaper with wide circulation.
- The State, after the demands of the victims, implemented a technical table that has only delayed the process, because State officials who make the decisions do not participate.
- For its part, the Public Prosecutor's Office has argued that it cannot stop the criminal proceedings opened against communicators, as long as a reform of the Penal Code is not carried out.
- The Superintendency of Telecommunications continues to argue that there are no FM radio frequencies available, knowing that of the 1,400 frequencies that can be used, only 514 are in use without considering that the radio spectrum can be digitized, which would multiply the availability of more frequencies as other countries are already doing it.
- The State of Guatemala does not want to compensate the four victim communities, justifying that it does not have the financial resources to make reparations.
From the foregoing WE DEMAND:
- To the deputies of the Guatemalan Congress that the Initiative for Law 4087 "Community Communications Media Law" be approved in its third reading and final drafting.
- That the State comply with its international commitments in the field of human rights in which the ratified international Treaties and Conventions are found and that are strictly complied with.
- That the decision-making officials in State institutions, responsible for complying with the sentence, actively participate in the meetings.
- That the Presidential Commission for Peace and Human Rights (COPADEH) fulfill its mandate to protect human rights and compliance with the Peace Accords and not just convene, as it has currently done.
- That COPADEH immediately publish the judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in Mayan and Spanish languages in the Official Gazette and another newspaper with wide circulation.
- Likewise, we request the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to follow up on this and be vigilant that the sentence is fully complied with. Today we forward the report to the Inter-American Court of the process of non-compliance with the sentence.
Iximulew Guatemala, February 15, 2023.