During this period there has been no reduction in the climate of intolerance and threats toward the press.
Since November, there has been an increase in acts of violence and reports of death threats against journalists throughout the country after four unknown assailants at the beginning of the month tried to abduct, then shot at and seriously wounded, a correspondent from the newspaper La República, Feliciano Gutiérrez, near his home in the city of Juliaca, department of Puno, in the southern part of the country.
According to sources, the attack is related to the arrest of employees of the National Police of Peru (PNP) as a consequence of newspaper reports revealing that members of the police had been extorting smugglers and drug traffickers who operate in the border area between Peru and Bolivia.
In another matter, Hugo Sucacahua, a correspondent for Panamericana Televisión in Puno, reported that he had received anonymous telephone calls warning him not to continue disseminating information related to the attack on the correspondent during which they also robbed him of money, cell phones, and a camera.
In other cases of police violence against the press, on November 30, Gino Márquez, associate editor of the newspaper El Sol de los Andes in the city of Huancayo, department of Junín, reported that a group of around fifteen persons, recognized as family members of PNP officials had entered newspaper facilities, causing serious damage, in reprisal for the publishing of newspaper investigations that tied them to a band of car thieves also involved in the murder of several taxi drivers. Later on, in December, journalist Oscar Rodríguez, head of the mentioned newspaper investigation, reported that two PNP officials, Santy Daniel Hidalgo Traverso and Tessy Perales Córdova, had sued him for slander in the Sixth Section of the Superior Court of Justice in Junín, in spite of the fact that they had been criminally accused of irregularities committed while exercising their duties. Journalist Rodríguez also was assaulted on February 7, by two unknown individuals who robbed his documents and his cell phone while he was waiting at a bus stop.
On December 2, Pedro Reyes and Romario Reyes, journalists from Channel 39, reported that they had been hit without reason by members of the PNP while they were covering a violent protest demonstration over the expansion of a penitentiary in the provincial city of Cañete in the south of the department of Lima. Then when the police realized that journalist Américo Huamán, of TV Peru Channel 7, was recording the assault, they attacked him too and tried to steal his video camera.
On the other hand, among the various assaults and attacks on journalists and media linked to regional, provincial and district authorities, one calls for special attention: Líder Luis Tamani, news director of Radio Nauta in the city of Iquitos, department of Loreto, sought personal guarantees from the government of Maynas on January 28 for him and his team, after an explosion of a Molotov cocktail destroyed the radio station’s facilities.
In addition, denunciations continue from several sectors of the press regarding numerous attempts at judicial threatening.
In November 2011, César Lévano, director of the national-circulation daily, La Primera, reported that during the past week he had received four court summonses for different lawsuits brought against him that, if allowed to go forward, could cause the newspaper to close.
On April 17, journalists Juan Carlos Talfur and Roberto More did not attend the reading of the decision scheduled by the judge of the 12th Criminal Court of Lima, José Rolando Chávez Hernández, in the case of the suit brought by General Antonio Ketin Vidal over the publication of a report that tied him to the Sánchez Paredes family
There are two initiatives that, should they be passed, would represent substantial impacts on freedom of the press and the right to information.
One bill of law proposes a modification of article 162 of the Penal Code, referring to the illegal interception of private communications, passed by a majority of Congress in December, 2011, but questioned by President Ollanta Humala Tasso in February 2012 due to legal defects in its wording. The Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the Congress of the Republic continues insisting on the original version, in spite of criticism from several sectors, including the Executive.
In March, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Paredes Rodríguez, and the Vice Minister of Communications, Raúl Ricardo Pérez Reyes Espejo, announced that an initiative to modify the regulations of the Law on Radio and Television of 2005 would not go forward.
In terms of the impunity that surrounds crimes against journalists, the April 18 murder of the young provincial prosecutor of the Supreme Court of Casma, in the department of Ancash, Luis Junior Sánchez Colona, 31, caused great consternation. He had been prepared to present the report of his investigations into accusations that the mayor of the district of Comandante Noel, Victor Rivero, was the possible instigator of the crime against journalist Pedro Flores Silva. The prosecutor was murdered near his home in the Santa Rosa neighborhood, district of Nuevo Chimbote, in the department of Ancash, by gunmen who shot six bullets to his head and body and who then fled on a motorcycle, according to the Chief of the Police Division of Chimbote, Colonel Walter Olivos.
The decision is being awaited in the third trial of the former provincial mayor of Coronel Portillo, Luiz Valdez Villacorta, and former judge Alberto Rivera Fernández. In March hearings were held during which the defense teams of the family members of the journalist and those accused presented their allegations in this emblematic case. The Prosecutor’s Office, for its part, has asked for 20 years of deprivation of freedom for the former mayor of Coronel Portillo, Valdez Villacorta.
Other relevant events in this period were:
On October 30, Mayra Azan, a reporter for Radio Arpegio, and Henry Sánchez, cameraman for Channel 35 in the Loreto region, reported that they had been assaulted by Andrés Salas del Águila the assistant for protocol of the regional government of Loreto, while they were filming him with the regional Vice President, Luis Lozano, at a dance organized by Salas’ family members in which state property was being used.
On December 6, Armando Huamán Tasayco, a journalist for Channel 33 and Radio Nova in the province of Chincha, Ica region, reported that he had been violently assaulted by the driver and companion of the District Mayor of El Carmen, José Alberto Soria Calderón, who also robbed him of his belongings.
On December 9, Iván Julca Mendoza, director of the biweekly El Especial in Ancash, and of the program Ancash Opina, carried by Radio Melodía in the province of Huaraz, Ancash region, reported that he had been beaten at the Municipality of Independencia by seven persons, including councilmen Héctor Pineda Torres and Isidro Reyes Díaz. The journalist attributed the assault to his investigations of presumed ties to corruption between these councilmen and those who would benefit from a public contract.
On January 10, Carlos Monja Timaná, host of the program El Investigador, carried by Radio Limón, in the province of Lambayeque, reported that he had been assaulted by two unknown persons in the full light of day.
On January 25, Moisés Campos, director and host of the weekly program Noticias TV in the province of Tocache, San Martín region, reported that he had been threatened with death through a pamphlet thrown under the door of his house. The journalist attributed the threat to his investigation of the provincial mayor.
On January 26, Rosario Romaní, Esther Valenzuela and Gudelia Machaca, journalists for the newspaper La Calle and radio station Wari, in the province of Huamanga, Ayacucho region, reported that they had been victims of a slander campaign, stalking, and threats as a result of the dissemination of their investigation of regional President Wilfredo Oscorima.
On January 27, Eduardo García, head of the investigative department of Channel ATV+ in the province of Lima, reported that his team of reporters had been victims of threats, harassment, and stalking, after they broadcast an intelligence document that involved a businessman and a former police colonel in the controversial case of telephone taps of an ex-candidate for mayor of Lima, Lourdes Flores Nano.
On February 3, Carlos Infante, director of the magazine Con Sentido, in the province of Huamanga, Ayacucho region, reported that she is being investigated by the National Department against Terrorism (DINCOTE) after publication of an interview with a terrorist with the Shining Path, Osman Morote, in prison for his crimes since 1988.
Cecilia Rosales de ElComercio was discriminated against by President Humala before other state media (El Peruano and Channel 7) and then the president’s bodyguards removed the journalist due to the insistance of her questions.