Report to the Midyear Meeting 2023
April, 25-27

The situation of freedom of expression worsened in the last six months and is at its worst moment since the return of democracy in the year 2000.

Between December and February, more than 170 journalists were attacked, harassed, threatened, beaten, and arbitrarily detained while covering nationwide protests following former President Pedro Castillo's attempted coup.

Journalists have become a target of attack by protesters, vandals, and agents of the Peruvian National Police. As a result, many no longer identify themselves or carry out coverage with their media identification.

According to the National Association of Journalists (ANP), most of the attacks come from officers of the National Police. However, no investigations were launched against them.

Harassment by civilians has transcended social and political coverage. For example, citizens of affected places did not allow journalists to enter the area during the floods in Arequipa, despite it being a natural disaster.

In March, three legal initiatives limiting free expression and the work of the press were presented to Congress. In different preliminary votes, it was observed that various factions of all political persuasions are leaning towards approving them.

Congresswoman Noelia Herrera, from the right-wing Renovación Popular party, introduced a bill making tuition for journalists mandatory. Meanwhile, Congressman Segundo Montalvo of the left-wing Peru Libre party presented a bill seeking to extend the defamation prison sentence from three to five years.

Congressman Alex Flores Ramírez, from Perú Libre, presented another bill to impose cultural content quotas on television and radio media. At least 30% of media content must be linked to national music, history, identity, and culture, and 30% to "emerging" artists.

Other important cases:

In November, a judicial order from the Fifth Constitutional Court of the Superior Court of Justice of Lima ordered the digital outlet El Foco to remove content related to the alleged mistreatment and harassment of four former workers by the attorney of the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, Miguel Ángel Méndez Maúrtua, in July 2022.

During the protests in December after Pedro Castillo's self-coup attempt and subsequent vacancy by Congress, there were at least 32 attacks against journalists covering both the political crisis and the demonstrations. Journalists attacked were from América TV, ATV, Canal N, CTC, El País, Exitosa, Huaura Noticias, La República, Latina, La Encerrona, Mataperrea, Noticias Ucayali, Panamericana TV, PBO, Radio La Ley, Radio Máxima, RPP, Save Who Can and Wayka, among others. The attackers were demonstrators, police officers, and vandals.

In January, the following media outlets were affected: América TV, ABC, AFP, Associated Press, ATV, Canal N, Comunicambio, EFE, EPA News, El Comercio, El País, El Salto Diario, Exitosa, Fama TV, IDL Reporters, Investiga News, La Dean, La Encerrona, La Gazzeta, La Mula, La República, Latina, Mataperrea, Morotoro TV, New York Times, New National TV, Ojo Huanuqueño, Panamericana, Planeta TV, Radio Contacto Sur, Radio Onda Azul, Radio Huancané, Radio San Isidro, Radio Sudamericana, Reuters, RPP, The Guardian, San Miguel, TV Peru, Washington Post, Wayka, Willax, and Zuma Press.

An assassination attempt was recorded against two journalists from La Ribereña radio station, in Bellavista, in the San Martín region. Luis Agustín Angulo Díaz and Pablo Torres Putpaña were hit by an SUV. As a result, Angulo was hospitalized with severe injuries. The journalists had been denouncing the municipal management of the mayor of Bellavista, Eduar Guevara Gallardo, who left office at the beginning of the year.

Other journalists attacked were Aldair Mejía, a photojournalist of the EFE agency in Puno; José Yupanqui of Exitosa Noticias, and Reynaldo Coila of Radio Juliaca La Decana in Puno; Fernando Zora of América TV in Cusco; Walter Hupiu in Lima; Gianpierre Huillca a cameraman of PBO, and Bryan Matías, a reporter of Panamericana TV attacked by dozens of protesters in Lima.

On January 21, the headquarters of Radio San Miguel in Puno was vandalized.

Other attacks were perpetrated against RPP journalist Andrea Amésquita, reporter Hellen Meniz, journalists Lourdes Páucar, Williams Nieva, Jhair Cabezas, and Cristian Ydoña of Canal N and América Televisión.

On January 24, photographer Guadalupe Pardo was shot through her camera lens by the Peruvian National Police, preventing her from losing her vision. That same day, Reuters photographer Sebastián Castañeda was hit by a protester's stone and wounded in the leg by police pellets. Something similar happened with the photographer Juan Zapata, from Wayka, who fell on his arm with two shots. Likewise, the photographer Flor de Milagros Núñez, from the Mataperrea portal, a police officer fired a tear gas canister into her face. The gas chamber she wore protected her from it, but it was destroyed.

In February, the affected media were: ABC, Coordinadora 14N, IDL-Reporteros, La Mula, La República, Nativa TV, TV Perú, and Wayka,

Journalists Rosa María Palacios and Gustavo Gorriti were harassed, insulted, and intimidated on February 22 by the far-right group La Resistencia. They were accused of being "terrorists" and "communists." In both cases, the vandals went to their homes and disturbed public order.

A week later, journalists of state Channel 7 were verbally attacked and harassed by members of La Resistencia. Vandals persecuted reporter Carla Sieza and cameraman Piero Sánchez while covering a press conference of the National Human Rights Coordinator. Security personnel in the area refused to intervene.

In March, the journalist Liubomir Fernández, from La República, was threatened on social networks for reporting on the death of six soldiers in the Llave River in Puno. The military would have died following orders from a superior, although some did not know how to swim and carried heavy equipment. Moreover, the deaths occurred due to clashes between that region's military and the Aymara.

The regional governor of Ancash, Fabián Noriega Brito, ordered his entity's Directorate of Transport and Communications to evaluate the licenses of radio and television media used to "annoy, to bother, to blackmail." First, the official asked the press to "support the authority." Then, addressing the regional director of Transport and Communications, he said: "With the firmness of the police and the Army, that those radios that they use in a non-transparent and irresponsible way to annoy, to bother, to blackmail, I ask you to evaluate their license and that you close them."

Latina TV reporter Carlos Navea was attacked in Congress by Flor de los Milagros Contreras, a member of the radical right-wing group La Resistencia, known for constantly harassing and intimidating journalists.

Journalist Paola Ugaz was notified in April of an investigation against her by the Prosecutor's Office for alleged illicit enrichment. The director of the La Abeja portal, Luciano Revoredo, for the third time denounced Ugaz before the National Prosecutor, Patricia Benavides. On this occasion, he accused Ugaz of getting rich when she was part of the press team of Susana Villarán, former mayor of Lima. The journalist continues investigating the religious group Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana for sexual and psychological abuse and financial mismanagement.

In terms of impunity, 34 years after the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos, justice was achieved. Former military, congressman, and former presidential candidate Daniel Urresti was sentenced to 12 years in prison for killing a former reporter for Caretas magazine in 1988. Urresti is already arrested and imprisoned. His defense will request the annulment of the process.

On the other hand, 31 years after the crime began, the oral trial of the murder of the journalist Melisa Alfaro was carried out with a bomb. One of the defendants is Vladimiro Montesinos, Alberto Fujimori's former presidential adviser, who was sentenced and is currently in prison for corruption and other crimes. Another defendant is Julio Salazar Monroe, who worked with Montesinos in the National Intelligence Service. Salazar Monroe is also serving a sentence for violation of human rights. A third defendant, Pedro Villanueva, former general commander of the Armed Forces, reportedly died last year. Alfaro was editor-in-chief of Cambio, an opponent of the Fujimori regime.