This period featured an increased number of journalists who have been severely assaulted, have been threatened with death and have been retaliated against by the judiciary for their reports, in most cases by regional and local authorities. Meanwhile, there were some regrettable backward steps in the unpunished cases of the reporters Alberto Rivera Fernández, Antonio La Torre Echeandía killed in 2004 and Miguel Pérez Julca in 2007.
As for the journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández killing, on September 24, Ucayali Criminal High Court approved that his case be transferred to a higher instance, as requested by his family lawyers earlier this month and the Legal Defense Institute. Thus, the Supreme Court will decide what judicial instance will carry out the cause in which the Mayor of Coronel Portillo, Luis Valdez Villacorta, and the former judge Solio Ramírez Garay will stand trial for masterminding the killing in 2004.
Besides, the members suspended the beginning of the trial which should have started the next day, on September 25, in the middle of doubts about the legal warranties, since the Judiciary appointed the same judges who acquitted Valdez and Ramírez.
The transfer of the Rivera trial to the Supreme Court is important because in mid September an IAPA and Peruvian Press Council delegation visited the Judiciary President, Francisco Távara Carrasco, to make proposals about creating a special jurisdiction for crimes against freedom of expression, the lack of a statute of limitations in criminal cases, the increase in sentences and need for a legal and constitutional amendment to increase sentences for crimes against reporters.
On September 3, the Supreme Court’s Criminal Section, chaired by Javier Villa Stein, ratified the sentence pronounced by the High Criminal Section on October 2, 2007 in which colonel Víctor Fernando La Vera Hernández and lieutenant colonel Amador Armando Vidal Sambento were convicted to 17 and 15 years’ imprisonments respectively for having killed the correspondent of the magazine Caretas in Ayacucho, Hugo Bustíos Saavedra, and for the attempted murder of the journalist Eduardo Rojas Arce en 1988 during an ambush.
However, there is concern about three other unpunished killings. As for the radio journalist Antonio La Torre Echeandía, on June 13, the Ancash Criminal High Court (ACHC) acquitted Moisés Julca Orrillo, who was accused of masterminding the crime and was at large until recently, because of lack of proof. For this case, the prosecutor Sadi Anaya has appealed to the Supreme Court to declare this sentence void, but there is no ruling yet. On July 2006, said ACHC exonerated and released the former Mayor of Yungay, Amaro León León, Marino Torres Camone and Pedro Ángeles Figueroa, convicted to 17 years’ imprisonment by the ACHC the same year.
In the case of radio reporter Miguel Pérez Julca, on April 17, José Hurtado Vásquez was sentenced to 23-year imprisonment for mastermind and Nazario Coronel Ramírez to 19-year for criminal cartel and each one of them to pay a 35,000 sol indemnity by the Jaén Court in Cajamarca. In this court Elvia Mendoza Linares and Dilmer Cabada are currently being tried under the accusation of giving the motorcycle and the weapon to the murderers, one of them, Sabino Sánchez Ayala, aka ‘Chino Ayala’, the alleged shooter who killed him, is still at large.
August marked 24 years since the disappearance of Jaime Ayala Sulca, correspondent of the newspaper La República in Ayacucho. Their relatives complained that the authorities neglected to look for the former military commander Álvaro Artaza Adrianzén, “aka comandante Camión (Commander Truck)”, who ordered the reporter’s disappearance when he entered Los Cabitos barracks in Ayacucho.
On the other hand, in July, the convicted offender and former Military Intelligence Agent (SIE) Jesús Sosa Saavedra, aka Kerosene, reported that in April 1989 general Alberto Arciniegas Huby, chief of the political-military commando of the Huallaga Front ordered him to kill radio reporter Guillermo López Salazar, alleged collaborator of the terrorist band Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path).
Within the same context, the journalist María Elena Castillo reported that the Judiciary requested her to deliver the audio records of an interview with Antonio Sosa, who has not given his permission. She committed not to do so. If delivered, she would be forced to break her commitment.
Other outstanding events against the freedom of the press:
Mabel Cáceres Calderón, editor of the weekly newspaper El Búho in Arequipa, was anonymously threatened -- her newspaper and herself would be destroyed due to their reporting. Cáceres, who has also faced defamation for reporting irregularities in the Universidad San Agustín de Arequipa for some years now, considers the former Arequipa Chief and current militant of the governmental party APRA, Daniel Vera Ballón, to be related with such events.
Gudelia Gálvez Tafur, reporter and host of the 24-hour news show in the Panamerica TV Huaraz, reported that she was threatened with death and that Regional Chief and his acolytes harassed her.
In Iquitos, department of Loreto, Radio La Voz de la Selva reporter Genaro Alvarado Tuesta has asked Maynas officials for personal protection because military officials threatened him. La Voz de la Selva reporter Mary Cora has received three death threats during this period after airing some reports against military, police and members of the judiciary.
Américo Zambrano publisher of the magazine Caretas, honored nationally and abroad in 2008 for his reports, was threatened with death. Following several articles on confabulations in the military elites, his dog was poisoned.
In September, the Constitutional Court President Carlos Mesía proposed that neither the lawyers nor Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) make a public pronouncement on the trial against the former President Alberto Fujimori because the judicial interference “distresses the citizens”.
The Peruvian Press Council kept on reporting that the Parliament has stepped backward in implementing the Transparency and the Freedom of Information Law. In addition, the deputies refused to become accountable for their operational expenses, and a Board passed an agreement on September 24 to exonerate them.
On April 2, the host and editor of the Radio Pucallpa show Conexiones in Ucayali, Smilzinia Mendoza, was verbally abused by an unknown individual who assaulted her in the street.
On April 3, Antonio Guadaña and Hipólito Arroyo, Radio Líder reporters and Juan Zapata Crizanto from the newspaper Panorama Cajamarquino, were assaulted in Portón Bajo, departament of Cajamarca, by some demonstrators who thought that such reporters were partial in their coverage of their conflict against the mining company Yanacocha. On-site police did not intervene to prevent this incident.
On April 6, the newspaper El Comercio reported that its Security Department scanned the communications systems. They detected that the home landline phone of its Opinion & Politics Editor was bugged.
On April 11, the newspaper La República correspondent in Puno department, Liubomir Fernández, was hit by Lilia Hancco, when he tried to take a photograph of her during the demonstration called by her husband, the Puno regional chief, Hernán Fuentes. Fernández relates the assault and the following anonymous threats by phone to his reports on regional administration irregularities.
In April, Puno regional chief, Hernán Fuentes Gómez, began a campaign to bring local reporters into disrepute through shows broadcast by his Radio Peru. Press organizations reported that Fuentes often accused reporters of being “extorionists and blackmailers.”
On May 14, José Luís Márquez Villalobos, from the weekly El Búho in Arequipa, was hit near the Universidad Nacional San Agustín by Jhon Bustinza Maydana who also broke his camera when the reporter asked him about his participation in a bid for contracts by the university.
Gudelia Gálvez Tafur, reporter and news host in the Panamerican TV in Huaraz, reported that Ancash Region Chief, César Álvarez, has threatened her, has assaulted her and has insulted her since late May and he has prevented her practice of journalism.
On June 2, Darío Macedo Figueroa, host of the show Hora Cero (Zero Hour) broadcast by radio Uranio, was hit in the head by an official in the main square of town Padre Abad, Aguaytía, Ucayali region. The reporter lost consciousness. Pedestrians helped him and stopped his assailant from further attacks.
On June 16, deputy Cecilia Chacón sued César Lévano, editor of the newspaper La Primera and César Ascues, copy editor of the newspaper for generic defamation-related offenses against the government and herself.
On June 26, soccer player Jefferson Farfán’s six bodyguards hit reporter Juan Carlos Gambini and the cameraman Juan Tarazona from Panamerican TV and stole their equipment when they tried to film guests who were coming to a family party in the outskirts of his house in La Molina district, Lima.
On July 15, city officials threatened and insulted Roxana Rivera, Elizabeth Salinas and Raúl Vento from the weekly newspaper Conoeste of Chosica district, east of the city of Lima, when they delivered copies of the newspaper El Comercio published on July 13, in which Mayor Luis Bueno Quino was accused of sexual harassment and irregularities.
On July 18, Puno police source reported that police officer Leydi Gonzáles Condori was dismissed because the previous week she hit two reporters while she was working for state security.
On July 31, Pomabamba prosecutor Lidubina Cabrera Espinoza threatened Otilio Norberto Ríos, host of the El Equipo de la Noticia broadcast by News Radio La Caribeña in Ancash region, while he covered the transport of a drug shipment seized by the Peruvian National Police (PNP). The prosecutor banned all the reporters from watching police officials burn the drug.
On September 2, about fifty workers for inter-provincial transportation companies entered the premises of the newspaper Ahora, in Bagua Grande, Amazonas, hit reporter Percy Uriarte and worker Tamayo Silvano and threatened to burn the premises in retaliation for reports that these companies transported drug-traffickers.
On September 5, reporter Felipe Tipián Ramírez and Charles Cubas Ojanama, cameraman of the show Enfoques, from Tarapoto, San Martín, reported that the lawyer of Universidad Nacional de San Martín (UNSM), Lister Celis Vela, assaulted them when they filmed those who entered Banda de Schilcayo police station.