Calls for review of radio station license cancellation in Peru
Miami (September 15, 2009)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned last week's hand grenade attack on the headquarters of the Sinaloa, Mexico, weekly Ríodoce and called on the authorities to make every effort to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.
According to inquiries made by the IAPA’s Rapid Response Unit in Mexico a grenade was tossed early Monday morning (Sept 7) into the headquarters of the paper in Sinaloa, northwestern Mexico, one of the states with the highest incidence of violence attributed to organized crime. The explosion damaged the front of the building, a desk, wall and flooring.
IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, expressed his solidarity with the journalists and other employees of the weekly paper, adding, “We condemn the attack which follows adds to the background of violence and impunity that reign in several parts of the country -- where organized crime imposes the rules of the game.”
Members of other media questioned by the Rapid Response Unit said they believed the attack to be a clear warning brought on by investigative reports the paper had been compiling on political and social issues and organized crime. In one of its most recent issues Ríodoce devoted its entire front page to a report on the 1,156 executions carried out in Sinaloa during 2008.
From 2005 to date there have been reported in Mexico nine acts of violence against the premises of news media in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatán, Nuevo León, Sonora, Coahuila and Sinaloa. The guilty been not been brought to justice in a single case.
Peru, radio station closed down
The IAPA described as “censorship” the cancellation NW Peru's radio station La Voz de Bagua's broadcast license and urged the agency responsible to reconsider its decision.
The organization was reacting to a June 8 order by Peru’s Transportation and Communications Ministry (MTC) cancelling the license for the station's alleged non-compliance with technical requirements stipulated in the Radio and Television Law, including installing its plant in a location other than the one authorized and not registering its broadcast tower and equipment between March 2007 and March 2008 – procedures that were completed, said the radio station’s director, Carlos Flores Borja, in early 2009.
License cancellation, nonetheless, occurred after government officials publicly accused the radio station of encouraging violence following a violent clash on June 5 in Bagua that left 24 police officers and 10 civilians dead. Transportation and Communications Minister Enrique Cornejo Ramírez announced at the time that he would investigate and act against any radio stations in the area found to “incite violence.” Three days later the station was notified that it was to go off the air.
Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information Chairman Robert Rivard declared, “While regulatory agencies have an obligation to ensure compliance with the law, it strikes us that this extreme decision appears more like an act of censorship, as it might well be based on disagreement with editorial stance.”
In a press release the Peruvian Press Council (CPP) questioned the “precipitated and arbitrary” action, saying it violated freedom of the press and free speech in Peru.