Judge Jorge Douglas Ochoa of the Criminal Sentencing Court of the Department of Chiquimula sentenced a commissioner and two agents of the National Civil Police (PNC) for the crime of abuse of authority in the detention of journalist Norma Sancir, who was covering a demonstration of the Chortís communities in Camotán.
Nine years after the events occurred, 19 hearings, and a debate lasting more than seven months, Norma received justice for the acts committed against her. The judge imposed a sentence of three years and nine months of commutable prison on Commissioner Ceferino Salquil and two years and six months of commutable prison on the two PNC agents.
The Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH), Norma’s legal advisor and plaintiff in this process, expressed that this ruling is of great importance and significance for our country for Freedom of Expression, which in recent years has been harshly attacked and criminalized, and for community journalism.
We consider the right to freedom of expression fundamental in any democracy. The events against journalist Norma Sancir should not happen again against any journalist. This ruling sets an important precedent.
We appreciate Norma Sancir’s trust in CALDH as her legal advisors to all the people who contributed to this case ending with a conviction.
The National Civil Police has an obligation to review its actions and protocols regarding human rights, especially the right to freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and community journalism, as well as national and international standards related to the treatment of women.
In this framework, we salute the journalists today in exile because of criminalization and attacks on their work. We urge the journalistic union to speak out against the threats to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and we invite them to continue exercising journalism as a democratic exercise and defense of human rights. Journalism must be carried out with freedom, respect, and all the guarantees the Political Constitution of the Republic mandates.
For the Right of a Just Country!
Center for Human Rights Legal Action
Guatemala, January 31, 2024