The authorities appear little interested in freedom of expression and physical attacks and obstruction of journalists have significantly increased.

More than 80 physical attacks and threats against journalists were recorded in 2005 (a dozen more than the previous year), many of them involving unscrupulous officials and politicians trying to silence reporters investigating their activities.

José Antonio Simons Cappa, editor of the magazine El Huinsho (in the central-northern town of Yurimaguas), was attacked by two town officials on 2 March. Hugo Gonzáles Hinostroza, of the daily Expresión (in the western town of Huaraz), received death threats on 6 August apparently from allies of the ex-mayor of Yungay, Amaro León León, whose involvement into the February 2004 murder of reporter Antonio de la Torre Echeandia, of the local radio station Orbita, he had been investigating. Bettina Mendoza, of CPN Radio, was also physically attacked in Lima by Peru's ambassador to Spain, Fernando Olivera Vega, on 28 April.

Peruvian courts did not punish these violators of press freedom, preferring to convict journalists for defamation. Julio Jara Ladrón de Guevara, managing editor of the daily El Comercio in the southern city of Cuzco, and radio journalist Luis Aguirre Pastor, were given suspended prison sentences of one and two years respectively. A former regional government official, Rafael Córdova Paliza, had sued Ladrón de Guevara after his paper suggested he was a crook. Aguirre Pastor was sued after he said local officials were involved in gold and timber smuggling.

These court rulings clearly violated article 11 of the freedom of expression declaration of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission that says public officials must expect closer scrutiny by society and that laws punishing criticism of them violate freedom of expression and the public right to information.

Journalists in some regions where local authorities were contested were obstructed by indigenous communities that attacked radio and TV reporters. Luis Alberto Peña Vergaray, of Radio Nieva Televisión, and his interpreter-guide Eduardo Arrobo Samaniego were kidnapped on 6 May in the Amazonian province of Condorcanqui while investigating the 21 April murder of four health ministry officials in Pampa Entsa. Miguel del Carpio Tananta, of the local Frecuencia 5 municipal TV station and Radio Marginal, in the northwestern town of Tocache, was forced to flee the town on 5 April after getting death threats from coca farmers who accused him of being a government agent.


This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.