Miami (September 13, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has rejected a reform of Peru's Penal Code that would hold the press responsible and penalize it for reporting on social protests that result in disturbances. The organization considers this measure contrary to international principles of freedom of the press, expression, and association.
The government of President Dina Boluarte has requested Congress to amend the Penal Code to punish instigators of disturbances during public demonstrations criminally. The measure includes content creators, social media users, journalists, and media outlets that report or share information about calls for social protests as instigators. The Peruvian Press Council (CPP in Spanish) has called for the immediate shelving of the proposal, which threatens freedom of the press and expression.
IAPA President Michael Greenspon rejected the reform. Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing and Print Innovation for The New York Times said: "In democratic societies, press, expression, assembly, and protest freedoms are individual and collective rights to express ideas, opposition, or grievances. Blalantly restricting these principles violates international conventions on human rights."
Carlos Jornet, President of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, said: "The amendment to the Penal Code would legitimize the criminalization of journalists in Peru, who could face imprisonment for covering social events that authorities consider disturbances."
Jornet, the editor of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior, referred to the declarations of Chapultepec and Salta by the IAPA, which state that no media outlet or journalist should be punished or held legally responsible for disseminating criticism or accusations against political power on matters of public interest.
Greenspon and Jornet urged the government to withdraw the proposed amendment to the Penal Code as it curtails rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, deeply rooted in democratic societies.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.