An injustice and abuse of the law
Raul Figueroa Sarti is a well known, and well respected, human rights-focused publisher in Guatemala. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of F&G Editores. Its publications examine sensitive and important human rights issues that are not frequently covered in mainstream Guatemalan media outlets. F&G Editors has published dozens of groundbreaking human rights texts, including the final report of the UN-backed truth commission which investigated Guatemala’s internal armed conflict and concluded that genocide had occurred.
On August 6, 2009, Figueroa was fined and sentenced to one year in prison (commutable on paying an additional fine) by a criminal court in Guatemala. The crime? – read on.
In 2006, Mardo Arturo Escobar, an officer of the Court, approached Figueroa to see if F&G Editors would publish some of his photos. According to his own testimony, he authorized Figueroa to use one of his photos for the cover of a book being published by F&G. In November 2006, the book was published, crediting Escobar for the photo. Escobar also received copies of the book and visited the F&G offices to have a copy of the book signed by the author. During his visit Escobar reportedly expressed his appreciation for the publication of the photo. Nearly one year later, in August 2007, Escobar filed a criminal complaint for copyright infringement alleging that Figueroa had published the photo without his authorization.
Urgent Actions have been launched by PEN and Human Rights First, and the Portuguese writer Jose Saramago has written about it in his website. GSN’s good friend, Iduvina Hernandez has also written an article about the case. All of these, and more, can be found on a temporary archive site from Kathy Dill.