Freedom of the Press

Peru

Peru

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

30

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

13

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

9

For more than a decade, Peruvian journalists feared the Shining Path guerrillas as well as dictatorial President Alberto Fujimori. In the name of fighting rebels, Fujimori's regime arbitrarily arrested journalists, used death threats against opposition reporters, repeatedly filed libel suits, permitted police harassment of news media, withheld advertising from critics, divested a leading television owner of his holding, and employed torture and other forms of pressure on journalists. Videotapes of bribes being paid to key figures in the media by Fujimori's intelligence adviser Montesinos confirmed that the Fujimori administration paid five of the six commercial television stations, much of the tabloid press, and at least one serious newspaper to run pro-Fujimori articles and editorials. Journalists' exposures of such widespread corruption and abuse of power helped bring down Fujimori, who fled to exile in Japan. After June 2001, the news media gained markedly from democratically-elected President Alejandro Toledo's efforts to restore the credibility and fairness of government. It was not always easy. Some surviving leaders in journalism were charged with complicity in the former corruption. Court processes were begun to sort out the victims from the victimizers. Numerous journalists who had been imprisoned for years were released. The public ombudsman called for repeal of the "insult laws" under which many journalists had been charged with defamation. Some officials who continued in office after Fujimori left the country sued the press under these laws for allegedly revealing their former ties. The Institute for Press and Society, an active press-freedom organization that helped overturn Fujimori, seeks now to improve the quality and ethics of Peruvian journalism. The press is largely privately owned. Radio and television are both privately and publicly owned.