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Peru November 3, 2005
H.E. Alejandro Toledo
Office of the President
Palacio de Gobierno
Plaza de Armas S/N
Republic of Peru
Fax: (011.51.14) 32-65-35
In July, a report by the National Association of Journalists of Peru (ANP) prompted Reporters Without Borders (RWB) to express concern that “an increasing number of journalists are being physically and verbally assaulted, with many of the attacks coming from members of the public.” In the first six months of 2005, ANP reported, “there were 47 cases of physical and verbal attacks on journalists, compared to 34 cases in the same period in 2004.”
Several incidents in recent months demonstrate that this lack of respect for journalists and the vital role they play in any modern democracy has continued. For example:
• On October 16, Elias Navarro Palmino, a correspondent for the daily, Correo, newspaper was trying to cover the story of a drunken man who had attacked a police officer in Ayacucho, in central Peru. The man’s relatives threw stones at Navarro, striking him several times.
• On October 11, a group of unidentified individuals doused the entrance of Radio Panorama station, in Andahuaylas in the Apurimac region, with a combustible fuel. Although the fire spread, the assailants failed to set fire to the building. Radio Panorama has condemned corruption in the regional government. Also, the station had recently refused a demand by the city’s nationalist movement to give preferential coverage on the arrival of the group’s leader in Andahuaylas, where he was to go on trial for the murder of several police officers.
• On the same day, two shots were fired through a window of the home of Félix Adrianzén Gonzáles, editor of the weekly, La Paisa , who lives in the province of Jaén , in the Cajamarca region. In recent issues, the magazine had been accusing local citizens, unions and political parties of responsibility for violent acts against the Majaz mining company.
• Julia Saldaña Eguren, of the national daily, La República, was threatened in September and warned that she would be killed if she did not leave the region. An anonymous caller blamed Rodolfo Lobo Tello of radio Feroz de Contamana, for the collapse of his business. Lobo’s series of reports on drug trafficking led to the arrests of several suspected traffickers.
Our members also are concerned by recent criminal convictions of journalists who have been doing the job of journalists — reporting the news.
On October 18, 2005, Rolando Rodrich Sarango and Luis Fernando Bahamonde Amaya, director and editor of the Trujillo-based daily, Correo , were each sentenced to two years’ probation for defamation. In addition, the paper was fined 30,000 soles (U.S. $9,000). Correo had reported that a particular individual who had been hired to work on a government project was facing a number of lawsuits. Although this report apparently merely stated facts, the lawsuit alleged that this defamed the individual by representing him as a criminal.
Mabel Cáceres Calderón, journalist and publisher of El Buho magazine, was sentenced to one year in prison, following her conviction on charges of defamation. This was the fourth case that the president of Universidad de San Agustin (UNSA), Rolando Cornejo Cuervo, had brought in order to silence the series of articles that Cáceres has written about corruption, cronyism and embezzlement at UNSA. In the other cases, she was either found not guilty or the charges were dismissed.
Your Excellency, the OPC believes strongly that the work of journalists should not be subject to criminal penalties. Civil courts provide remedies for individuals who believe that they have been harmed by reports in the media. However, we also wish to emphasize that the work of journalists is to tell the truth and inform the public, even when that truth may harm individuals or organizations.
We urge you to support the AIPA/IPYS initiative and add your voice to the calls for legislative reform to protect journalists and freedom of the press.
Norman A. Schorr
Co-chairmen, Freedom of the Press Committee
Carlos Ferrero Costa
Office of the Prime Minister
Parque Universitario S/n
Lima 1, Pisa 8
Republic of Peru
Fax: (011.51.1) 426-0230
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 Oswaldo de Rivero
Permanent Mission of the Republic of Peru to the United Nations
820 Second Avenue , Suite 1600
New York , NY 10017
Fax: (212) 972-6975
James Curtis Struble Juan Carlos Lujan
U.S. Ambassador to Peru Editor
Embassy of the United States of America email@example.com
Avenida La Encalada
Cdra. 17 s/n
Monterrico, Lima 3
Fax: (011.51.1) 618-2397