STAND UP AGAINST DEFAMATION: SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER AND UDEFEGUA’S DIRECTOR JORGE SANTOS
Jorge Santos, from UDEFEGUA – a close ALLIED partner – is facing defamatory remarks that undermine his and UDEFEGUA’s credibility. We urge you to review and please share FrontLine Defenders’ Urgent Appeal and the Statement from Global Witness regarding the alarming situation where defenders are facing severe threats.
During a public hearing on May 18, 2023, concerning the case involving El Periódico‘s director and journalist José Rubén Zamora, the former convict Ronald García Navarijo made defamatory remarks about human rights defender and UDEFEGUA‘s director, Jorge Santos, to undermine the credibility of the Unit for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and discredit its vital work in Guatemala.
José Rubén Zamora is currently facing charges of money laundering, and Ronald García Navarijo is the key prosecution witness. In his statement, García Navarijo alleged that the accused journalist and human rights defender Jorge Santos had conspired to engage in influence trafficking, with the objective of obtaining a passport that would enable García Navarijo to flee the country and avoid legal consequences.
For the past 22 years, UDEFEGUA has been steadfast in its mission to support human rights defenders, including those who have been unjustly targeted and criminalized in retribution for their tireless advocacy of rights and freedoms. Throughout their endeavors, UDEFEGUA has remained committed to upholding the principles of the law. They categorically refute any association between human rights defender Jorge Santos and Ronald García Navarijo, as well as any previous encounters involving either individual or the accused journalist, José Rubén Zamora.
The defamatory accusations directed at human rights defender Jorge Santos constitute a targeted attack that endangers not only his personal safety but also the well-being of his family and the efforts of all individuals associated with UDEFEGUA, criminalizing their work in support of human rights.
These incidents occur against the backdrop of an alarming pattern of systematic repression against journalists and human rights organizations in Guatemala. This hostile climate has given rise to smear campaigns and an alarming surge in the unjust criminalization of their invaluable work.
We urge you to review and please share FrontLine Defenders’ Urgent Appeal and the Statement from Global Witness regarding the alarming situation where defenders are facing severe threats. Democracy itself is under siege.
Update: Positive Outcome After Rigorous Investigation
In a significant development, following a thorough investigation, human rights defender Jorge Santos from UDEFEGUA, a close ALLIED partner, has been declared innocent. The relentless efforts to tarnish his reputation have proven unfounded, reaffirming the integrity of both Jorge Santos and UDEFEGUA.