Reporters Without Borders said that it feared that mistreatment of journalists by local political leaders in the first months of 2006, presaged abuses as bad as those which marked the previous year.
Last year, the organisation recorded 62 cases of threats and physical assaults against the press. Nine journalists have suffered the same kind of attack since the start of 2006, often at the hands of the local authorities.
“Peru holds the unenviable record for the most attacks against the media on the American continent", it said. “The public authorities are delaying in coming to grips with this phenomenon and for the good reason that they are widely involved in it".
“The campaign for presidential and legislative elections on 9 April raises fears of a further outbreak of violence. In this situation, candidates must clearly promise their backing for the right to inform and freedom of expression”, it said.
A group of police officers, under the orders of Capt Mendoza, on 24 February 2006, went to the studios of the radio Amistad in Aucayacu, central Peru and accosted the sole staffer present, soundman Edwin Revilla.
They told him to provide them with precise information about the journalists and those in charge of programmes as well as the running of the radio and licences it has had issued.
Vladimir Angulo, a journalist on radio Amistad, who condemned what happened, said the intimidation could be linked to the case of the death of terrorist leader, Héctor Aponte Sinarahua, alias “Clay”, gunned down by police on 19 February 2006.
The radio, on 20 February, broadcast a statement from a witness to the effect that the terrorist chief was not dead after the clash, as the official version said. Police had reportedly riddled him with bullets, firing without warning.
The police chief in Aucayacu, Capt. Roger Rossi Denegri, told the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), that he had not authorised the police raid.
Elsewhere, Felipe Tipián and cameraman Levis Cárdenas of the TV programme “Enfoques” on the Red Global channel were targeted by municipal official Carlo Magno Pasquel, who tried to run them down with his motorbike and left the cameraman with a leg injury as they were covering a demonstration in Tarapoto, northern Peru on 28 February. He then got off his bike and insulted the journalists, who had implicated him in cases of poor local management.
Finally, supporters of presidential candidate Ollanta Humala Tasso insulted and attacked Karina Chávez, who runs the TV programme “Prensa libre” at an election rally on 8 February in the Comas district, north of Lima, punching her in the face and spitting at her.