Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack by local residents on three TV journalists in Combayo (in the northern department of Cajamarca) on 8 July, which coincided with the publication by the National Association of Journalists of Peru (ANP) of worrying press freedom violation figures for the first half of 2005.
"We are very concerned by the growing violence that threatens the work of journalists in Peru, in particular, by the increase in physical and verbal attacks against them," Reporters Without Borders said. "We call on the authorities to do what is necessary to give journalists better protection throughout the country and to ensure that last year’s record number of violations is not exceeded this year."
TV reporters Eduardo Liñan Castañeda of Canal 25 and Álvaro Briones of Telenorte and TV cameraman Daniel Urday were physically and verbally assailed by a group of Combayo residents as they were covering a meeting between local officials and residents about the construction of dyke by a mining company. The residents, who oppose the dyke, accused the journalists of bias in favour of the mining company. In the course of the incident, Briones was hit several times and Urday’s camera was smashed.
The 8 July incident joins the long list of 66 press freedom violations registered by the ANP since the start of the year, and which seem to confirm the marked deterioration in the situation of the Peruvian press seen in 2004.
The most striking development is the increase in the number of physical and verbal attacks to 47 in the first half of 2005, compared with 34 in the same period last year. There were also 10 cases of threats and harassment, as well as judicial pressure, the arbitrary arrest of Julio Jara Ladrón de Guevara in January, and break-ins at the home of Marilú Gambini Lostanau in March and May. Most of these press freedom violations took place in Peru’s Andean and Amazonian regions.
The ANP’s figures also show a sharp rise in the number of attacks by members of the public, from nine in the first half of 2004 to 28 in the first half of 2005, indicating such attacks are becoming commonplace and accepted. Attacks by police and security forces rose from eight in the first half of 2004 to 10 in the first half of 2005, while attacks by civilian officials was virtually unchanged (18 in the first half of 2005 as against 17 in the first half of 2004).