Authorities, political parties main source of assaults on Guatemalan press during Colom's presidency, report says

The Guatemalan press reported 33 assaults during 2011, an election year, up from 19 incidents in 2010, according to a report published on Thursday, March, 15, by the Journalist Observatory of the Cerigua Agency.

Among 33 cases violating freedom of expression in Guatemala, the report includes the killing of a journalist -- a case still unresolved --, 13 death threats, seven physical and verbal assaults, an arbitrary arrest, two intimidations, and eight violations of freedom of information, reported the news agency EFE.

The report highlights that the majority of the assaults against journalists (including the eight murder cases within the past four years), were perpetrated by authorities and few were attributed to organized crime, even though Guatemala is rated as one of the countries with the highest levels of problems with violence and organized crime.

The study also counted 179 assaults on the press registered during the government of President Álvaro Colom between 2008 and 2012. Of those, 31 percent are attributed to the authorities; 12 percent to armed groups and security forces; 27 percent to political parties and only three percent to organized crime, reported the newspaper Prensa Libre.

The report also said that assaults on the press might be under-reported as journalists could be withholding from registering incidents as a way to protect themselves and their families, especially in areas where drug trafficking is high, reported the news agency the Associated Press.