Peru

Aa
$.-
PERU Journalism is practiced freely and newspapers and magazines are distributed without restriction. However, there have been some disturbing events. July 29. Declarations by President Alberto Fujimori on National Day July 28 were interpreted as a veiled threat to the media. In his speech, he said, "On several occasions, we have discovered to our surprise that behind this moralistic zeal lie purely selfish interests." A few days before the speech, some media had printed an investigation by Mexican daily Reforma in which the character of some people close to the presidency was questioned. August 26. The controversial Bishop of Ayacucho, Monsignor Juan Luis Cipriani, charged there was a plan to control the news. Emphatically affirming what he called the "violence of the lie," he proposed the creation of "mechanisms" through control of journalistic information by the National Institute in Defense of the Consumer (INDECOPI) or the National Insitute for Defense of the People. He claimed such control would not infringe press freedom. Although the church as an institution immediately distanced itself from the Bishop's remarks, the idea sparked a massive reaction. Bishop Cipriani saw the need to modify his statements by calling upon the media for ethical self-control. August 30. The declarations by Bishop Cipriani, considered by many to reflect the views of the government, led the media to speculate about the origins of his censorship proposal. This caused Congressional president Victor Joy Way to stress that no biII has been presented to limit press freedom. He invited media professionals to examine for themselves the way in which they present the news. September 2. President Fujimori distanced himself from the declarations of Bishop Cipriani. He declared himself in favor of unrestricted press freedom, saying, "This is my commitment in word and deed, and it wiII not change." He said that the citizenry itself constitutes a regulatory body for the press, "If a newspaper prints false reports, people will stop buying it." September 9. Justice Minister Carlos Hermoza Moya made disturbing statements in which he supported the Interior Minister in his restrictions of the sales and distribution of certain newspapers and magazines with erotic and pornographic content in kiosks. Hermoza said this did not restrict press freedom because such publications are not included within the concept of freedom of press. Congressional representatives and legal experts pOinted out the dangers lurking in making such exceptions. There was a consensus that a solution ought to be found by exercising self-discretion. September 15. Four days after the remarks by the Justice Minister, the second Criminal Court in the city of Piura began to confiscate some issues of the Chuchi, El Chino and Ajd newspapers, calling them obscene. The operation was led by the assistant prosecutor. September 14. Government ombudsman Jorge Santistevan de Noriega asked for the creation of mechanisms of self-regulation by the press that would limit the publication, distribution and sale of printed material damaging to public morals. He said he favored the creation of an ombudsman or advocate for the press. He also said that he would make contact with journalists' associations so they could enforce the rules for the sales of publications. September 26. The mayor of Lince, a district of Lima, issued a regulation to prohibit the open display in kiosks of magazines and newspapers with cover photographs of nudes, seminudes, heterosexual or homosexual couples in provocative poses or photos of corpses, burn victims or other violent or macabre images. Kiosks that displayed such material would be subject to fines of about $50. The measure was criticized by some of the affected media, who argued that this violated press freedom. Events involving free access to public information: June 9. The regional chief of Puno, General Luis Alberto Coquis, arbitrarily prohibited local journalists from covering the arrival of President Fujimori in this city. He argued, "The president is coming from Lima with his own corps of journalists." September 6. Members of the Special Court on Public Rights kept journalists from covering the trial of drug trafficker Demetrio Chavez. He said that journalists had to make arrangements 24 hours in advance to cover the trial. This case revealed the high degree of penetration of drug traffic within Peruvian society, even in the highest reaches of the armed forces. After much insistence, journalists were allowed to cover the trial. April 24. The Congressional Justice Committee shelved a bill proposing the modification of articles in the penal code that could infringe on press freedom. The original bill was subject to so many changes that its meaning was distorted. The author of the bill, Congressional representative Maria Ofelia Cerro said that she would present another bill on the same subject soon. May 6. Congressional representative Antero Flores Araoz presen ted a bill to exempt newspapers from the 18 % value added tax. He argued that newspapers and magazines ought to receive the same treatment as books since they equally contribute to develop the cultural level of the populace. Moreover, in the case of the press, the tax cannot be passed on to consumers. September 3. Congressional representative Oscar Medelius Rodriguez, president of the Congressional Justice Committee, introduced a bill to strike down the ban on the publication of polls 15 days prior to elections. It is expected that the bill will be decided upon and approved shortly. Events concerning free distribution of the media. May 4. The Peruvian Newspaper Association protested the illegal and arbitrary attempt by the National Federation of Newspaper Sellers of Chimbote to monopolize the distribution of newspapers. Staff of La Industria of Chimbote were attacked when they collaborated with the sale of newspapers. March 21. Gesti6n reported receiving pressure from the National Tax Board (SUNAT) in retaliation for its critical attitude towards the workings of this institution and the government. Gesti6n sald it was upset about the sudden withdrawal of advertising usually published by SUNAT in the newspaper. Events involving the jailing and attacks on journalists, March 30. Jesus Alfonso Castiglione Mendoza is still in jail in fulfilment of a 20-year sentence because of his alleged collaboration with terrorists. The charges were not proved in court. The journalist was recently awarded the Hellman-Hammet Prize for Freedom of Expression, given by the human rights organization, Human Rights Watch. May 17. Ricardo Palma Michelsen, director and journalist for Radio Miraflores, was arrested on charges of tax fraud. Without making a judgement on his guilt or innicence, it is necessary to point out the excesses of government officials in using this renowned journalist to demonstrate the impact of the new criminal penalties for tax fraud. October 1. Alfonso Castiglione, Jose Antonio Alvarez Pachas and Eduardo Sihue Cano, journalists sentenced and jailed on charges of terrorism, were pardoned by President Fujimori. This was due to the naming of an ad hoc commission made up of distinguished figures to review the sentences of people sentenced on charges of terrorism, who may have been judged too harshly in the frenzy to combat subversive groups. May 4. Photographers Enrique Cuneo of El Comercio and Javier Zapata of Caretas were attacked by a group of 60 municipal police recruits who had been called in to squash a demonstration in the Plaza de Armas of Lima. Municipal authorities later apologized. September 2. Unidentifed assailants hurled a homemade bomb against the home of journalist Fernando Yenque Guevara, reporter for Radio Supercontinental of Chulucanas, Piura. His wife and children, who were inside the house, escaped injury. A recent IAPA report said 29 journalists have been murdered in Peru because of their work in the last 13 years. Of these, only three "comuneros" from Uchuraccay and the murderer of Todd Smith of the Tampa Tribune have been sentenced to jail. The rest of the cases of murdered journalists have gone without punishment, among them that of Hugo Bustios of Caretas, where there was ample evidence of the guilt of two military men, and those of Pedro Yauri of Radio Universal of Huacho and Jaime Ayala, correspondent for La Republica in Ayacucho, disappeared after apparently being kidnapped by paramilitary members. Practically all the rest of the cases can be attributed to Shining Path guerrillas.

Share

0