13 September 2013

IAPA trusts murder of Peruvian journalist will not go unpunished

MIAMI, Florida (September 13, 2013)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed today its confidence that the Peruvian judiciary will resolve the murder of journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández.   The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared that his organization is “respectful of the justice system’s independent task” and added, “we trust that they will get to the bottom of the case, in order to prevent this crime to go unpunished.”   On September 4 the Supreme Court’s Transitory Criminal Tribunal requested that a May 2011 acquittal of Luis Valdez Villacorta and Solio Ramírez Garay as instigators of the murder be invalidated. When Rivera Fernández was killed on April 21, 2004 in Pucallpa, Ucayali province, in retaliation for his exposures of drug trafficking and unlawful transfers of land on public radio, Valdez was serving as mayor and Ramírez Garay as city manager; both had been repeatedly accused by the journalist as organizers of these irregularities.   In the next few days the court is due to announce its decision to annul the acquittal and order the holding of a new oral trial to determine who instigated the murder. The request for invalidation was submitted to the court by the Legal Defense Institute (IDL) in representation of the journalist’s family.   Seven people are serving prison terms as perpetrators of the crime.   Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, stressed the importance of the “emblematic Rivera Fernández case” being fully solved and expressed his solidarity with the victim’s family members and colleagues in the province, one of the areas that has suffered most violence in the Americas, according to half-yearly reports completed by the IAPA.   The IAPA said that it has been giving detailed follow-up to this case through its Impunity Project. It sent international delegations to Pucallpa on three occasions; it held meetings with judges and members of Congress in Lima urging them to implement legal changes to combat the violence against the press. Along with the Peruvian Press Council, it enthused to have the legal proceedings transferred to Lima to ensure greater transparency, it held conferences and seminars in Peru on the dangers journalists face, and it promoted an awareness campaign on unpunished crimes against journalists.   The Rivera Fernández case will be given special attention at the IAPA’s upcoming General Assembly, to be held October 18-22 in Denver, Colorado.   The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.