Letters   |   Peru

Peru: Fujimori regime cracks down on investigative press

December 16, 1999

His Excellency Alberto K. Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
Lima, Peru

VIA FACSIMILE

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is writing to protest your government's ongoing legal campaign against the Peruvian journalists group Asociación Prensa Libre, and in particular against Prensa Libre member Guillermo Gonzales Arica. We believe this campaign is designed to quell investigative journalism in Peru.

Without any credible evidence, your government has accused Prensa Libre of forging documents to substantiate its claim that the Peruvian National Intelligence Service (SIN) and Military Intelligence Service (SIE) are waging a campaign of harassment against two opposition candidates in the upcoming presidential elections. Out of all Prensa Libre's members, Gonzales Arica has arbitrarily been singled out for legal harassment in connection with this accusation.

On August 25, Prensa Libre held a press conference where they revealed the existence of Operational Plan "Politicians," an official scheme to spy on presidential candidates Alberto Andrade Carmona and Luis Castañeda Lossio and their respective political organizations. During the same conference, Prensa Libre showed a video of Andrade and Castañeda being followed and harassed by suspected SIN and SIE agents.

Prensa Libre filed a formal complaint with the National Elections Jury (JNE) about these alleged irregularities. Meanwhile, the Supreme Council of Military Justice (CSJM) investigated Prensa Libre's allegations. But the CSJM did not examine Prensa Libre's documentary and video evidence. Instead, they used second-hand accounts of this material in the Peruvian press. Based on this sketchy "evidence," the CSJM concluded that Prensa Libre had falsified documents. The CSJM then filed its own complaint with the JNE, accusing Prensa Libre of obstruction of justice and "crimes against the public faith."

The JNE has referred both complaints to the Public Ministry, which authorized the CSJM case to proceed, while reportedly not taking any action regarding Prensa Libre's complaint. In response to the legal proceedings initiated by the CJSM, Prensa Libre filed a writ for the protection of its constitutional rights, including freedom of expression. The Public Law Court threw out the appeal on procedural grounds.

While all members of Prensa Libre are accused of having falsified documents, authorities have so far singled out one member for investigation. On November 19, Guillermo Gonzales Arica, a reporter with the weekly Caretas, received a summons to appear three days later at the Police Division of the Public Ministry. On November 22, at Prensa Libre's request, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked Your Excellency's government to guarantee Gonzales Arica's right to liberty, physical integrity, freedom of expression, and due process. It also asked Your Excellency's government to explain what it is doing to protect Gonzales Arica's rights.

Local journalists suspect Gonzales Arica may have been targeted because of his hard-hitting Caretas reports and his testimony in a separate case against Peru's intelligence services, currently pending before the IACHR.

All available evidence suggests that Prensa Libre has merely exercised its constitutional rights to free expression, to the extent still possible in Peru. We join the IACHR in urging you to guarantee the right of Gonzales Arica and all other Prensa Libre journalists to do their jobs without fear of reprisal, as called for by the American Convention on Human Rights.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.


Sincerely,

Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director



Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in Peru

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His Excellency Alberto K. Fujimori
President of the Republic of Peru
Lima, Peru

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