The world was outraged when a 14-year-old girl in Pakistan was shot in the head last week simply for being an ardent advocate for the right of girls to an education. Unfortunately, Malala's case is not an isolated one. In most parts of the world today, individuals and organizations working to advance social, political, and environmental justice face imminent danger as a result of their work. In the past two months alone, a 70-year-old activist in Cambodia was sentenced to 20 years in prison because he challenged the government's policy of confiscating local land for powerful corporate interests; in southern India, police used live ammunition on villagers protesting against a proposed nuclear power plant; a human rights lawyer opposing the creation of special economic development zones was shot dead in Honduras; and in the United Arab Emirates, an outspoken critic of inhumane treatment of political prisoners was assaulted in the street twice and faced government surveillance.
Freedom House is concerned by reports that journalists from local and national Peruvian media outlets were assaulted on June 14 by police while covering clashes between anti-mining protesters and police in the city of Cajamarca. Protesters were on their 15th day of a strike against the Conga mining project.
Freedom House condemns the prison sentence handed down by a Peruvian criminal court against two journalists on charges of criminal defamation and calls upon the government of Peru to overturn this sentence and to repeal criminal defamation laws which encourage self-censorship, thereby restricting freedom of expression.
Freedom House welcomes Peru’s efforts to investigate the deaths that resulted from a recent anti-mining protest, but remains deeply concerned about the government’s use of state of emergency declarations as a way to restore order.