Freedom of the Press
You are here
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)
- Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the 1993 constitution, but local and international media organizations continued to express concern regarding the media’s ability to openly criticize the government in 2009.
- Laws expanding access to public information were enacted in 2002 and 2003, and the willingness of many government agencies to provide information has grown, though a 2005 measure tightened restrictions on certain categories and extended the timelines for the release of classified information.
- Defamation remains a criminal offense that can result in imprisonment, though there were no new cases against journalists in 2009.
- Politicians frequently react to criticism, particularly corruption allegations, by suing journalists, press outlets, and activists. In August 2009 the government submitted a bill that would have expanded the correction and right-of-reply requirements for media outlets, but it was shelved after significant outcry from press freedom groups and opposition politicians.
- The hostile climate for the press is evidenced by numerous instances of physical attacks and verbal threats from local authorities, private actors such as coca growers, and the police. Topics like the Shining Path guerrilla movement, corruption, and drug trafficking are considered particularly dangerous to cover. No journalists were killed in 2009, but dozens were subject to threats, intimidation, and assaults. For example, in August, a journalist reporting on machinery prices and spending discrepancies in the region of La Libertad received a death threat demanding that he stop his investigation. The same month, Marco Villanueva was shot and wounded by muggers after they realized he was a journalist. They blamed him for the arrest of a friend whose picture Villanueva had published in the newspaper Diario de Chimbote. In November, a group of eight journalists covering a political demonstration in the Apurimac region were assaulted by police.
- Impunity remained a problem during the year, as most cases of violence or harassment of journalists by public officials and private citizens went unpunished.
- High levels of social conflict sometimes create tension between the government and press outlets. In June 2009 the government rescinded the broadcast permit of Radio La Voz de Bagua. Technical reasons were cited, but officials also claimed that the station had instigated violence during its coverage of indigenous protests that eventually resulted in the deaths of over 30 people. The station and press watchdog groups complained of censorship and arbitrary application of the law. A similar incident had occurred in 2008. In September 2009, the government ordered the shutdown of a cable television antenna in northeastern Peru. The station, Canal 19, was accused of not having a proper contract for operations and holding debt with the building manager. A day before the closure, it had broadcast a report accusing a former government official of corruption and other political manipulation during his time in office.
- The government owns two television networks and one radio station, and operates the print news agency Andina. However, private outlets dominate the media industry, and the audience for state-run media is relatively small. In December 2009, President Alan Garcia pardoned former television station owner Jose E. Crousillat, who was supposedly gravely ill. Crousillat had been serving a prison term for selling his station’s editorial line to Vladimiro Montesinos, an intelligence chief under former president Alberto Fujimori. The controversial pardon stirred speculation that the government was seeking to exert influence over broadcast media ownership.
- Radio is an important news medium, especially in the countryside.
- The media corruption that was endemic during Fujimori’s presidency in the 1990s continues to some extent, with journalists occasionally accepting bribes in exchange for slanted coverage, and owners using media outlets to promote their broader business interests.
- The internet is not restricted by the government, and about 27 percent of the population has access.