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For rural-based journalists in Guatemala, reporting the news can be a dangerous occupation in a country where attacks on the press are common and impunity rife. They can turn to the international community for protection, however. That was the message Eduardo Bertoni, the Organization of American States' Special Rapporteur on Free Expression, brought to journalists in Guatemala last month, reports CERIGUA.

In a workshop on 21 and 22 June 2004, Bertoni informed the 20 participants, most of them rural-based journalists, about the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court on Human Rights. The purpose of his visit was to familiarise journalists with international standards on free expression and human rights, and to raise awareness of protection mechanisms for those whose rights are violated.

Victims of human rights violations at the hands of governments can appeal to the Commission by filing a complaint ( When it receives a complaint that has been verified as reliable, the Commission can take a number of actions. It can carry out an investigation, conduct on-site visits or hold a hearing into the case. Or it can bring the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Bertoni noted that journalists in Guatemala's interior areas face greater threats and attacks than urban-based journalists, notes CERIGUA. Last March, he sent a report to the Guatemalan government outlining recommendations for ensuring the protection of free-expression rights. The report highlighted the "alarming increase in intimidations against the media."

Read the report here:

To find out more about the work of the Commission, visit:
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- OAS Rapporteur on Free Expression:

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