Committee to Protect Journalists
Country Report: Peru
As of December 31, 1998

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Concerned about evidence of a systematic state-run campaign to discredit Peru's independent press, CPJ staff members traveled to Lima in June as part of an international delegation of press freedom organizations. Attacks on the press declined in the immediate aftermath of the visit -- which included interviews with President Alberto K. Fujimori and other high officials -- but increased again at year's end, as a series of scandals continued to damage the government's popularity.

Criminal gangs are responsible for a growing share of violence against journalists in Latin America, but in Peru there is clear evidence of government involvement in a campaign against the press that has included jailings, detentions, threats, and constant surveillance. In March, several tabloid newspapers in Lima began publishing pieces attacking prominent investigative journalists, accusing them of being communists, traitors, and "prophets of the devil." The articles stopped appearing after the press freedom delegation met with Fujimori, but resurfaced again in August on a website which journalists say was created by the intelligence services to discredit government opponents.

Independent journalists also experience cruder forms of intimidation. They allege that they are often followed, and that their phones are tapped. Government pressure has forced two television programs off the air -- one temporarily and one permanently. There has also been sporadic violence. In August, the house of Hugo Guerra, an editor with the Lima daily El Comercio, was hit by gunfire.

Peru and Cuba are the only countries in the Americas where journalists are serving jail sentences for crimes relating to their work. Four journalists remain in jail on terrorism charges after being sentenced by hooded military judges in 1994 and 1996. A fifth was jailed in November after he read a communiqué from the Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) on the air.

The fact that journalists can work at all under such difficult conditions owes a great deal to the efforts of the Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), a Lima-based press organization founded in 1993 that has systematically monitored abuses and pressured the authorities to respond. While most of the attention has been paid to journalists in Lima, in November IPYS established a 24-hour toll-free telephone number so that journalists in the provinces could report press freedom violations. IPYS was immediately deluged with dozens of complaints from provincial journalists about criminal defamation prosecutions, threats, and detentions.
Attacks on the Press in Peru in 1998
Date Journalist Incident
11/20/98 Johnny Eduardo Pezo Tello, Doble A Imprisoned
11/02/98 La República Threatened
11/02/98 Gustavo Mohme Llona, La República Threatened
10/26/98 Cecilia Valenzuela Threatened
08/21/98 César Hildebrandt, Canal 13 Global Televisión Legal Action
08/18/98 Isaac García Villanueva, Radio Siglo XXI Threatened, Harassed
08/04/98 Jhonny Navarro, La República Harassed
08/04/98 Reneyro Guerra, La República Harassed
08/02/98 Hugo Guerra Arteaga, El Comercio Harassed
06/18/98 César Hildebrandt, Canal 13 Threatened
05/26/98 Cecilia Valenzuela, Canal 9 Threatened
05/22/98 César Hildebrandt, Canal 13 Threatened
05/22/98 Luis Iberico, Canal 9 Threatened
05/22/98 Gonzalo Quijandria, Canal 9 Threatened
05/22/98 Cecilia Valenzuela, Canal 9 Threatened
05/22/98 Fernando Rospigliosi, La República Threatened
05/22/98 Gustavo Mohme, La República Threatened
04/29/98 El Comercio Threatened
04/06/98 Isabel Chumpitaz Panta, Radio Satélite Killed
04/06/98 José Amaya Jacinto, Radio Satélite Killed
04/06/98 Walter Chumpitaz Panta, Radio Satélite Attacked
04/06/98 Isabel Chumpitaz Panta, Radio Satélite Killed
04/06/98 José Amaya Jacinto, Radio Satélite Killed
04/06/98 Walter Chumpitaz Panta, Radio Satélite Attacked
03/03/98 José Arrieta Matos, Frecuencia Latina-Canal 2 Legal Action
01/01/98 Angel Páez, La República Threatened

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