Guatemala lawmakers propose jail for some political speech

2018-10-31 15:05
Guatemalan national flag. (Moises Castillo, AP, file)

Guatemalan national flag. (Moises Castillo, AP, file)

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A group of Guatemalan lawmakers has introduced legislation that would punish with prison time certain kinds of speech criticizing elected officials and candidates.

The initiative targets "acts of pressure, persecution and harassment" against politicians.

Eva Monte is a lawmaker who has supported President Jimmy Morales. She says the bill introduced on Tuesday seeks to avoid defamatory campaigns.

Monte says it would, for example, punish linking a political figure to corruption when the person has not been accused or is not under investigation.

Human rights prosecutor Jordan Rodas counters that the measure would violate constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.

Two similar initiatives earlier this year failed to win approval.

Morales is suspected of illicit campaign finance. Recently a request to withdraw the president's immunity from prosecution was not approved by congress.

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