Report to the Midyear Meeting
April 20-23

During the protests calling for the impeachment of former President Martin Vizcarra, and the swearing in of Manuel Merino in November 2020, more than 40 journalists covering the demonstrations were attacked by the National Police.

In addition to the aggressions from the authorities, journalists have been attacked by users of social networks. According to the National Association of Journalists, the 223 attacks on journalists and media during the last year were committed by security agents (79), civilians (57) and public officials (53). Due to the pandemic, 135 journalists have died from coronavirus - 131 of them men.

In November, during the protests calling for the impeachment of former President Martin Vizcarra, more than 40 journalists were attacked by the National Police with glass and lead marbles. Several of them said they were attacked deliberately, and others said they were attacked from behind. Photographers said they were prohibited from recording the events. Among the media attacked were El Comercio, La República, RPP, Canal N, Wayka, ABC España, Exitosa, Huku Comunicaciones, Latina, TV Mar, ATV, AFP, América TV, Reuters and Ojo Público. During the protests, two young demonstrators were killed by law enforcement officers.

The discourse against journalists and the media has been radicalized during the elections by the candidates themselves, by new media outlets, as well as thousands of users in social networks. In fact, the platform of Perú Libre - the party with which the candidate Pedro Castillo won first place in the first round of elections - dedicates five pages to proposals that would imply a total change of rules for freedom of expression and private media: from state advertising and mandatory certification of journalists, to some government departments approving the content of television channels and radio stations. The plan makes constant allusions to the actions of Rafael Correa, the Kirchners, Fidel Castro and Lenin regarding the media in their countries. It also argues that the IAPA represents the interests of economic, business and financial groups in the Americas, therefore the country should "free itself" from this organization.

In the legislative area, several bills on official advertising have yet to be approved by Congress. The mandatory professional registration of journalists was again discussed.

Other legal initiatives to be concerned about are:

Radio and television: in October 2020, a preliminary opinion was presented - also approved by the Transport and Communications Commission - to modify the law on radio and television. It seeks to prohibit the broadcasting of programs with violent, obscene "or any other kind of content" during prime-time hours. Also, to "regulate informative objectivity" as it relates to the dignity of individuals - although it doesn't specify how.

Professional registration: in December 2020, a new bill, presented by Leonardo Inga Sales - congressman from Acción Popular - proposed the registration of journalists as an "indispensable requirement for the exercise of the profession by graduates in the fields of journalism and communication sciences."

In March 2021, Alianza para el Progreso, Frepap and Podemos presented several bills for the creation of various professional communication associations in which all communicators and journalists must register, on a mandatory basis, in order to practice their profession.

In the judicial area, slander lawsuits were filed, among them:

In October, the TV show host Rodrigo González - known as 'Peluchín' - was forbidden by judge María Cecilia Guevara Acuña to publicly refer to Susana Umbert - entertainment manager of the Latina channel. González used to criticize Umbert and call her names - she then sued him for "violence against women."

Youtuber Hugo Javier Pillco was sentenced last October to a one-year suspended prison term and ordered to pay Raúl Diez-Canseco - former vice-president of Peru - S/.10,000 (about US$2,700) for defamation, after the publication of a video about corruption, in which Pillco mentioned how Latam Airlines had achieved its current position in the market. Pillco stated that when Diez-Canseco was Alejandro Toledo's vice-president, both allegedly received money from Latam to clear competitors out of the civil aviation sector. Pillco rectified and withdrew the video, whereupon Latam dropped the accusation.

In October a police squad and officials of the Public Prosecutor's Office raided the stations Ica Cadena Sur, Radio Sistemas and Radio La Mega and took computers, laptops and cell phones, and seized their transmitters. The wife of the governor of Ica, Monica Guillen, said that these media were critical of her and the regional government.

In November, the weekly Hildebrandt en sus trece was accused of not respecting the privacy and personal data of patient zero of coronavirus; therefore, the Ministry of Justice could impose a fine of more than S/.200,000. The weekly pointed out that the source never demanded anonymity to declare, and explained that publishing the name of the patient -who had already declared to other media - was a matter of public interest at the onset of the pandemic. The publication pointed out that the fine would bankrupt them.

Early in 2021, began the trial against General Daniel Urresti - while he was a presidential candidate - for the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos in 1988. During the trial, Jesús Gálvez - a witness - denounced having been pressured not to testify against the ex-military officer. Gálvez told a television program that he had been offered US$5,000 not to testify. After his statements were broadcast, he denounced that someone entered his house and searched through it as a form of intimidation. He also said that two or three witnesses had agreed to testify in Urresti's favor in exchange for a payment. Urresti's lawyer resigned from his defense. The new defense then tried to deny that Bustíos had been a journalist.

Journalist Carlos Paredes, author of the book El perfil del lagarto - an investigation on former president Martin Vizcarra - received several threats after publishing the book.

In March, it was announced that the Judiciary determined that the director of the Correo newspaper, Iván Slocovich, received a one-year suspended prison sentence and pay S/.7,000 (about US$1,800) in civil reparations for using a 2001 news item as a source for an article he published in 2016, in which he mentioned Álvaro Castro Osores as "implicated in a criminal process for covering up Vladimiro Montesinos." The PJ has pointed out that Slocovich did not check the reliability or viability of the source, given that Castro was not involved in a "criminal process" but in a "criminal complaint."

In March, journalist Carlos Alberto Tafur - from the program Señal Informativa Digital of Radio Stereo G 96.5 in the Amazonas region - reported he received death threats after revealing irregularities in three municipalities of his region. Tafur has denounced an alleged economic damage due to lack of execution of public projects in Amazonas.

During Manuel Merino's brief presidential term, his government tried to censor coverage of protests against him on Canal 7 - a state-owned channel. In response, the institution's board of directors and its press manager, Renzo Mazzei, resigned their posts.

Following Francisco Sagasti's inauguration as president - after Manuel Merino's resignation - face-to-face press conferences for journalists and the media were resumed. These had been suspended during Martin Vizcarra's administration - journalists could not attend neither physically nor virtually.