December 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Peru

Peru January 22, 2010

H.E. Alan Garcia Perez
President
Palacio de Gobierno
Plaza de Armas S/N
Lima 1
Republic of Peru
Fax: (011.51.14) 32.65.35

Your Excellency:

We write to protest two more cases in which Peruvian officials have retaliated against journalists who criticized their actions.  This adds to the long litany of similar incidents we called to your attention last year, and further stains your country’s reputation as a nation without respect for freedom of expression.

Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco, director of the weekly, Nor Oriente, in the Amazonian city of Bagua, was sentenced on January 12 to one year in prison for “aggravated defamation.”  The charges stemmed from a series of articles he wrote in 2005 alleging corruption in a local public educational institute, according to the journalist’s lawyer, Juan José Quispe.  However, journalists in Bagua told the Committee to Protect Journalists that they believe the harsh sentence reflects Nor Oriente’s coverage of last year’s violent clashes between security forces and Amazonian Indians fighting against oil and mining projects on their native lands.  The paper has been critical of the government’s conduct in these incidents, in which dozens of people were killed, including some twenty police officers.

Two days later, according to Lima’s media freedom monitor, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), a district mayor in Peru burst into a radio presenter’s booth during a live broadcast, physically attacking the presenter and damaging his equipment.  The mayor, Ángel Adrián Palomino Ramos of the Ica region’s Pachacutec district, was said to be retaliating for ‘Radio La Achirina’ journalist Henry Lovera’s reporting of allegations that Palomino Ramos had used public money to buy artwork for one of his private businesses.  Palomino Ramos allegedly struck Lovera in the face and chest and damaged his microphone.

The Freedom of the Press Committee of the Overseas Press Club of America, an independent organization that has defended press freedom around the world for more than seventy years, holds that attacks of any kind against journalists for doing their work must not be tolerated.  If officials have been wrongfully accused or criticized, they should seek retribution in civil, not criminal, courts.  But truth must be accepted as a defense, and no official should be sheltered from criticism by his or her office.  As the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights stated in 1994: “Considering the consequences of criminal sanctions and the inevitable chilling effect they have on freedom of expression, criminalization of speech can only apply in those exceptional circumstances when there is an obvious and direct threat of lawless violence.”  By the same token, if Palomino Ramos’s conduct was as described, he should be prosecuted for assault, as any other citizen would be.  This would put your country in compliance with Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which Peru has ratified.

Thank you for your attention to this crucial issue.  We would appreciate a reply.

Respectfully yours,

 

Larry Martz    Jeremy Main
Co-Chairmen – Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

H.E. Javier Velasquez Quesquen
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Parque Universitario S/n
Lima 1, Pisa 8
Republic of Peru
Fax: (011.51.14) 426.0230
Republic of Peru

Defensoria del Pueblo
Jr. Ucayali No. 388
Lima 1
Republic of Peru
Fax: (011.51.14) 26.78.89
defensor@ombudsman.gob.pe

H.E. Luis Valdivieso Montana
Ambassador of Peru to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Republic of Peru
1700 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20036
Fax: (202) 659.8124

Ambassador Gonzalo Gutiérrez Reinel
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Peru
        to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue, Suite 1600
New York, NY  10017
Fax: (212) 972.6975

H.E. Peter Michael McKinley
U.S. Ambassador to Peru
Embassy of the United States of America
Avenida La Encalada cdra. 17 s/n
Surco, Lima  33
Peru
Fax: (011.51.16) 18.23.97

Rosario Orihuela Laus
América TV (Canal 4)

Adriana León
IPYS
Calle Sucre no 317
Barranco
Lima
Peru
Fax: (011.51.12) 47.31.94

Sr. Luis Garciamiro
Expreso Tu Diario de Siempre
 
Director
La Republica
Fax: (011.51.17) 02.01.48

Sr. Francisco Miró Quesada
Director
El Comercio
editor@comercio.com.pe

Director
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión
Lima
Peru
Tel: (011.51.14) 27.84.93