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Guatemala24 February 2005

Death threats against provincial TV journalists

Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the repeated death threats that have been made against journalists working on the programme Contacto Noticioso on the local cable TV station Canal 13 in the eastern department of Chiquimula.

"We ask you to ensure that those responsible for this campaign of harassment are arrested and punished because press freedom cannot be practised in climate of impunity," the organization said in a letter to the Guatemalan interior minister. It also called on the authorities to provide more protection for journalists.

Contacto Noticioso producer Benjamin Martínez said he and his team had received at least 25 anonymous phone calls since the start of the year warning them to stop reporting or risk being killed. The content of the calls has ranged from funeral march music to direct death threats.

A recent Contacto Noticioso programme criticised the poor living standards in the city of Esquipulas. Another report was about a raise awarded to certain municipal employees, which Martínez believes may be the reason for the threats.

The programme’s team of journalists is demoralized and is reluctant to respond to calls to go and report stories for fear of falling into a trap.

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