79th IAPA General Assembly, November 9 - 12, 2023, Mexico City, Mexico


During this period, violations against the freedoms of the press and expression worsened. The usual aggressions from the Executive and Legislative Powers were added to those by the National Prosecutor's Office, the National Police, and regional governments.

The breakdown of the rule of law left the press more defenseless. Analysts and former officials pointed out that the Ombudsman's Office and the Constitutional Tribunal are not guarantees of freedom of expression. The government of Dina Boluarte unsuccessfully attempted to limit private media by criminalizing coverage of social protests.

The National Prosecutor's Office has become a new front of aggression against journalism. The intimidation to obtain sources from investigative journalists was added to the refusal to comply with the Law of Transparency and Access to Public Information regarding requests for information related to the National Prosecutor, Patricia Benavides.

The Executive Power influenced the editorial line of public media such as TV Perú and Radio Nacional, censoring critical voices and more than a dozen dismissed journalists. President Boluarte appointed Ninoska Chandía as president of the National Institute of Radio and Television of Peru (IRTP), producer of the state channels TV Perú and Radio Nacional, despite her having previously directed the Department of Strategic Communication and Institutional Image of the Presidency of the Republic. Days earlier, Jesús Solari, former president of the IRTP, had resigned by letter, and three other board members demanded that the institution not be "a political window" and that "editorial independence" be guaranteed. A month after Chandía's entry, about seven journalists and two administrative officials were forced to leave their positions after the IRTP did not renew their contracts. There were leaked complaints of pressures to reduce on-screen criticism of the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, towards the Boluarte government.

Members of the National Police continue to assault journalists and limit their work, especially during protests and social conflicts. There is no policy to prosecute offending officers. Nor is there a policy to investigate and prosecute extremist groups that harass and attack the press.

State institutions increase demands on journalists and media outlets to reveal anonymous sources.

Congress has an alliance between far-left and right factions to legislate against journalism. The Executive Power joined these unsuccessful attempts. The government presented to Congress a request for powers to legislate on citizen security, particularly on the criminalization of speeches, censorship, virtual patrolling, and blocking webpages. The aim was to modify the Penal Code to "punish the instigators of the crime of disturbance" within the context of protests. Public officials or communicators who called for marches or protests or citizens who did so through social networks were considered potential instigators, thereby criminalizing the right to protest and to inform about it.

There was also an attempt to modify the Law Against Organized Crime, including crimes facilitated by information technologies that were not necessarily computer-related, which would threaten freedom of expression. It would allow geolocation data without a court order, affecting individuals' privacy guarantees.

In its vote, Congress removed from the legislative powers request the application of the crime of disturbance to communicators or citizens and established a 'lock' that prohibits limiting fundamental rights.

President Boluarte, for the first time, refused to answer questions from journalist Ángela Valdés of Canal N regarding implementing a state of emergency in nine country districts due to crime.

The left-wing factions in Congress failed to legislate on defamation and mandatory journalism guild membership. In May, Congress initially approved a bill by Congressman Segundo Montalvo from the Free Peru party that sought to extend the prison sentence for those convicted of defamation to six years. It was later reduced to a maximum of four years, but Congress voted against it, and the initiative was filed away.

Other relevant events during this period include:

In mid-May, Congressman Américo Gonza from the Free Peru party introduced a bill to "guarantee access to and dissemination of national artistic and cultural expressions." The initiative suggests that content dedicated to artistic and cultural expressions on television and radio should be proportional to their other content. Additionally, it aims to establish a specialized body within the Ministry of Transport and Communications, with support from the Ministry of Culture, to verify compliance.

In June, the Free Peru congressman Segundo Montalvo insulted and pushed journalists in the Amazonas region who asked him about his performance in Congress. He called the journalists "blackmailers and jam-eaters."

In April, the mayor of Trujillo, Arturo Fernández Bazán, verbally assaulted several journalists, particularly female journalists, with sexual insults.

In May, the self-named group La Resistencia attacked the media outlet IDL-Reporteros editorial office with flares and garbage. Members of La Resistencia have vandalized dozens of media outlets and journalistic and cultural activities under the total inaction of the police and the National Prosecutor's Office.

In mid-May, the Transitory Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court ruled that republishing a tweet with allegedly defamatory content could constitute an ongoing crime of defamation. It allowed a complaint filed in 2018 against journalist Daniel Yovera to remain active. The complaint was filed by Carlos Gómez de la Torre Pretell, a representative of the religious group Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, which journalists have accused of having members who sexually and psychologically abused young people.

In 2016, Yovera tweeted a link to Al Jazeera's documentary "The Sodalitium Scandal" about the scandal. According to reports, the journalist sought to provide context to the public about his response to a claim from Sodalitium itself. For the Supreme Court, this was an intentional act of continuing defamation. However, last year, the Judiciary, through two instances, declared the process to be time-barred. However, The Supreme Court pointed out that the case had not expired because it was a "continuous crime." In June, the Superior Court of Justice of Lima declared the case closed, leaving the possibility of a complaint being filed for "continuous crime." Finally, in July, Gómez de la Torre appealed, which reopened the case. Compensation of S/.1.5 million, more than US$400,000, is being sought.

Relatives and acquaintances of Betssy Chávez, the former prime minister of Pedro Castillo's government, assaulted journalists César Cano (Canal N), Javier Rumiche (RPP), Liz Ferrer (La República), and Silvio Alvis (Exitosa), while they were covering her arrest by police, ordered for her participation in Castillo's coup d'état.

The group La Resistencia once again harassed journalist Rosa María Palacios outside her home.

Seven journalists were assaulted on July 19 during a national protest demanding the advancement of general elections and the release and reinstatement of former president Pedro Castillo.

In August, the Exitosa Noticias team in Huaral received threatening letters for their reporting on the municipal management.

Journalist Enrique Bayona reported that he was shot at by two individuals while driving his vehicle in Piura. Bayona had exposed a corruption case involving the negotiation of regional infrastructure projects.

In October, Prime Minister Luis Alberto Otárola criticized the press for requesting information from public officials and entities. "We are entering a dangerous scenario, in which the press asks for information even for the brand of pencil used by the ministers," he said in a press conference. Otárola is being investigated for contracts signed between the State and personal friends.

In October, the weekly publication Hildebrandt en sus trece reported surveillance by the Army Intelligence Directorate on two of its journalists, Rebeca Diz and Ricardo Velazco. It revealed an order from that agency: "Carry out dissuasive surveillance at the homes and workplaces of the journalists." Previously, the weekly had published reports on sexual abuses against female soldiers and the embezzlement of pension funds of the Army's civilian staff. The channel Willax indicated that other journalists from Latina Noticias, Día D, La República, and Cuarto Poder were also under surveillance. The Army denied the accusation.

Hildebrandt also denounced that the Criminal Investigation Directorate of the National Police ordered him to inform the identity of an undisclosed source and the documentation used in a weekly article. The police also requested "data, names, telephone number, address of the person with whom they interviewed" about another anonymous source used in another article.

In October, the National Control Authority of the Public Ministry demanded Gustavo Gorriti, director of IDL-Reporteros, to inform if any member of the Public Prosecutor's Office had provided videos or information for an article in which he linked the former head of Odebrecht in Peru, Jorge Barata, with Gorriti himself and with the director of La República, Gustavo Mohme. The link, IDL-Reporteros verified, was false and based on disinformation.

In various courts, the argument of limited capacity due to the pandemic was still used to restrict coverage or deny access to journalists and media outlets at judicial hearings. The press was not allowed to enter the oral trial of former President Alejandro Toledo for corruption in the Lava Jato case. The broadcast was carried out through the official channel JusticiaTV.

On October 27, a group of unknown persons set fire in Piura to the car of journalist Enrique Bayona, owner of the television channel Palmeras TV, the second attack in three months. Bayona had denounced alleged acts of corruption, including one linked to Congressman Guillermo Bermejo.

On October 31, masked radical groups calling themselves "Los Combatientes" and "La Insurgencia" attacked IDL-Reporteros journalists in the newsroom and Rosa María Palacios in her home, under the complacent presence of police officers.

On October 30, the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima announced that it would file a criminal complaint for aggravated defamation against the production of LatinaTV's Punto Final program and its host, Monica Delta, for a report on the insufficient food received by Lima's soup kitchens. Dozens of supporters demonstrated in front of the channel, shouting "lying press."

In April, Daniel Urresti was sentenced to 12 years for the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos.

In the case of Pedro Yauri Bustamante, although former advisor Vladimiro Montesinos and the Colima Group were convicted of the murder, his remains have still not been found. Yauri Bustamante, who was kidnapped, murdered, and disappeared on June 24, 1992, hosted a radio program where he denounced the excesses and corruption of the government and officials in Huaura, his province.