As a result of increases in the number of journalist assassinations, the attorney general is analysing the possibility of converting the Unit for Crimes against Journalists into a specialised prosecutor's office or agency.
On the night of Saturday, 5 November 2016, journalist Hamilton Hernández Vásquez, 28, was assassinated alongside his wife, Hermelinda González, 35. According to the National Civil Police (Policía Nacional Civil, PNC), the murder took place on the highway between Coatepeque and Flores Costa Cuca, Quetzaltenango department, and represents the third armed attack in the municipality.
The attorney general announced the restructuring and strengthening of the Unit for Crimes against Journalists, as well as an increase in the personnel assigned to the Unit and improvements in the quality of investigations. Aldana put Public Prosecutor’s Office Secretary Mayra Veliz and Human Rights Prosecutor Hilda Pineda in charge of coordinating these changes. She also announced that the process is underway to establish a Unit for Crimes against Journalists in Quetzaltenango.
Ileana Alamilla, coordinator of Cerigua’s Journalists’ Observatory and president of the Association of Guatemalan Journalists (Asociación de Periodistas de Guatemala, APG), thanked the attorney general for this decision that will benefit journalists and noted that the Public Prosecutor’s Office had agreed to meet with Guatemala’s Press Alliance on 14 November to share information about the Protection Programme for Journalists and advances in its establishment.
Thus far in 2016, nine commentators have been assassinated, six radio station personnel, a television producer, a social commentator and a television reporter. Eight of the crimes took place in the departments and one in the capital.