Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Press freedom suffered a decline in 2004, a year that saw a marked increase in the harassment of journalists. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution, and a freedom of information act was passed in 2002. Governmental offices are now providing greater access to information, but critics complain that implementation of the law remains incomplete and awareness is low. On July 15, a new Law on Radio and Television was passed that began to be implemented in November. While the law is intended to ensure impartial regulation, critics alleged that it gave excessive power to the Ministry of Transportation and Communication and did not address the issues of bribery and corruption. Defamation, libel, and other lawsuits are used frequently against journalists. In February, for example, Huanuco regional president Luzmila Templo filed a lawsuit against the managing editor of the country's largest daily newspaper, El Comercio, for allegations of his links with cocalero leaders. The final case of a journalist charged in the "faceless court" system under former president Alberto Fujimori was resolved when a court declared Juan de Mata Jara innocent of terrorism charges on January 30.
While press freedom in Peru has greatly improved since Fujimori's fall in 2000, attacks against journalists have increased in the past few years, especially in cases involving the reporting of local corruption. Numerous cases of harassment by local authorities and private organizations included physical attacks, illegal arrests, and threats of judicial action or death, which resulted in some self-censorship. The National Journalists Association reported 121 cases of harassment, three times the number from the previous year. The majority occurred in rural areas, where the state maintains a less effective presence. Two journalists were killed for their work during the year, with local government officials allegedly having a hand in both murders. The mayor of Yungay was reportedly involved in the murder of Antonio de la Torre Echeandia, a radio journalist and former supporter of the mayor who had suffered repeated threats and attacks after reporting on corruption within the mayor's administration. Local officials were also suspected in the murder of Alberto Rivera, a radio host and political activist in the eastern Ucayali Department. Many journalists reported threats after writing about local corruption. In April, for example, Rocio Vasquez reported receiving death threats after writing about the fishing industry; she later resigned. The government has been criticized for issuing demands for more favorable news coverage. At the same time, Vladimiro Montesinos, Fujimori's jailed former right-hand man, has been accused of exerting undue influence on certain pro-Fujimori media outlets.
The media are predominantly privately owned and represent a diverse array of viewpoints, including those that support and those that oppose the government. Various media serve the Lima market, and numerous newspapers, television networks, and radio stations operate in rural areas, where radio is the most influential medium of communication. The media corruption that was endemic in the Fujimori era continues to an extent today, contributing to a long-standing lack of confidence in the press as a credible institution.