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)
Peru’s media freedom declined in 2006 amid a series of threats and physical attacks against media workers. Freedom of the press is guaranteed in the 1993 constitution, but local and international media organizations continued to express concern about the state of press freedom. In 2002 and 2003, the government of President Alejandro Toledo passed laws expanding access to public information. The willingness of many agencies to provide information has grown, despite a July 2005 measure that tightened restrictions on access to information in certain categories and extended the timelines for release of classified information. In 2006, the government attempted unsuccessfully to prosecute one reporter for revealing state secrets, even though the supposedly damaging footage had been used in campaign ads by former president Alberto Fujimori. Desacato (disrespect) laws continue to be a problem. A number of journalists were entangled in court cases in 2006, charged with defamation by public officials and private citizens, and two reporters were given suspended prison sentences. Press watchdog groups also decried a new law that could limit free expression by subjecting nongovernmental organizations to onerous registration requirements.
In addition to judicial harassment, the hostile climate for the press is evidenced by numerous instances of physical attacks and verbal threats. Local press watchdog Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad dramatically increased the number of alerts it issued, from 73 in 2005 to 96 in 2006. Journalists working in the country’s interior provinces are especially vulnerable. Reporters covering crime stories and scandals were targeted largely after reporting on corruption. In April, Chimbote journalist Marilu Gambini was forced to flee the country after her reporting on drug trafficking resulted in a series of death threats, which continued even after she went into hiding. Elias Navarro, a reporter from the Ayacucho region, was threatened and an attempt was made to bomb his home in September following his reports on a local corruption scandal. Political campaigns and protests also resulted in violence against journalists; in fact, the largest number of reported press violations occurred in the periods prior to the April national elections and the November local elections. In December, two journalists were injured—one shot and severely wounded—during a large protest in the city of Abancay.
Most abuses of journalists by public officials and private citizens continue to go unpunished. The progress made in 2005 when the former mayor of Yungay, Amaro Leon, was found guilty of ordering the 2004 assassination of Antonio de la Torre, a radio journalist and harsh critic of the mayor, was tarnished when the Supreme Court released Leon owing to what it said was a lack of evidence. In the case of the 2004 murder of radio journalist Alberto Rivera in the city of Pucallpa, several individuals were sentenced, but the arrest order against the Pucallpa mayor, under suspicion as an intellectual author of the crime, was revoked after a dubious court ruling.
Private investors dominate the media industry, and in comparison the audience for state-run media is relatively small. The government owns two television networks and one radio station and operates the print news agency Andina. Radio is an important medium, especially in the countryside. Peru’s media are diverse and express a broad range of viewpoints. The media corruption that was endemic in the Fujimori era continues to an extent today, with both owners and individual journalists sometimes accepting bribes in exchange for slanted coverage. Several newspapers were accused in 2006 of coordinating smear campaigns with high-level government officials. These activities contribute to a long-standing lack of confidence in the press as a credible institution. National newspapers are also dependent on advertising revenue from a small number of large companies. The internet is open and unrestricted by the government, with just under 16 percent of the population accessing the web in 2006.