Report to the 76 IAPA General Assembly
October, 21-23, 2020

The lack of transparency was evident during the last semester in both the Congress and the Executive Branch. Several conferences, sessions and debates did not have sufficient coverage, presence of journalists, or the possibility to ask questions.

The beginning of congressional sessions opened a new front of aggression against freedom of expression: the attempt to regulate state publicity without technical criteria. In September, an ordinance was approved to regulate state publicity in the Transport and Communications Commission. It includes a series of bills aimed at prioritizing the smaller media in the allocation of state publicity in the country. The ordinance does not include technical criteria regarding audience, readership or rating, nor does it require the Executive Branch to be transparent about publicity expenditures.

This new legislative period saw the installation in office of congressman Daniel Urresti - the most voted of the legislative elections - who was prosecuted for the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos in 1988. Urresti is the second most voted politician for the 2021 presidential elections.

In the last semester, the number of libel suits filed against journalists decreased, although some of them are still being prosecuted. The journalist Paola Ugaz - who together with Pedro Salinas is investigating the religious group Sodalicio Vida Cristiana - has lawsuits for defamation filed by people close to the organization.

In September, Salinas denounced that he was being followed around his home - south of Lima - and that they were asking and offering to pay for information about him. Salinas is the author of the investigation into sexual and psychological abuse committed by Sodalicio Vida Cristiana, and will soon publish a second book about the group's business.

In addition to the judicial persecution, the journalists reported being the victim of a campaign of harassment and discredit in the written, digital and electronic press. Aerial photos and the address of Salinas's residence in Mala (south of Lima) and of her children's home in Lima have been followed and published, as well as the name of the school where Ugaz's children study, who on 2 October was threatened with death on Instagram. Ugaz and Salinas filed a complaint with the police.

Several newspaper vendors in several cities were intercepted by police and the military during the quarantine. They were taken to various police stations, although they were soon released. In the province of Chepén - in the region of La Libertad - the municipality tried to ban the sale of newspapers by street vendors.

In April, the cartoonist known as Carlín received several death threats because of a cartoon he made for the newspaper La República about former president Alan García - on the anniversary of his suicide.

The trial against congressman Daniel Urresti for the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos in 1988 was rescheduled twice. It was supposed to start in April, but was suspended because of the pandemic until September 2. Then it was rescheduled again because Urresti was suspected of having symptoms of coronavirus. No date has been set.

The trial for the 1984 murder of La República journalist Jaime Ayala was also suspended. It was to be held on April 8. No date has yet been set for its rescheduling.

The newspaper Expreso denounced having been the victim of a hacking attempt in June.

Mesías Guevara - the regional governor of Cajamarca - warned journalists of the province of Jaén that "anything can happen to them" if they continue publishing information harmful to him.