The country once again had a record number of about 100 threats and physical attacks against the media during the year. One journalist was targeted by a bomb and another was shot in the head at a demonstration.
Violence against the media is still high and rose in 2006 to 54 physical attacks and 47 threats, compared with a combined total of about only 60 the previous year. The very aggressive campaign for the 9 April presidential election did not help. In the first three months of the year alone, a dozen journalists were beaten and insulted, especially at election meetings of nationalist candidate Ollanta Humala, who lost in the second round of voting to former President Alan García.
Activists beat up TV journalist Karina Chávez near Lima on 8 February. Three weeks later, a local official accused of corruption used a demonstration in the northern town of Tarapoto to try to ram a crew from the TV station Red Global with a motorcycle. Police in Aucayacu burst into radio station Amistad the same month, took the names of journalists and seized information about the murder of an extremist leader.
Local corruption, drug-trafficking and resumed activity by the Shining Path guerrillas in the Andes were very dangerous subjects for the media to report. Freelance journalist Marilú Gambini Lostanau had to flee the country in April after more than a year of death threats and efforts to intimidate her because she reported on drug shipments passing through the western military port of Chimbote.
Elías Navarro Palomino, editor of the regional weekly Línea Roja and local correspondent for the national daily La República in the southwestern town of Ayacucho, who had received death threats from coca growers, was nearly killed on 30 September by a bomb explosion near his house after he had reported on mismanagement of a credit co-op. But only material damage was caused. Four months earlier, co-op officials tried to get into the house of Línea Roja’s printer.
Wilman Caychigua, correspondent for Radio Inca Tropical and the daily El Chasqui in the southeastern town of Abancay, was shot in the head by police during a violent demonstration against local officials on 5 December. He was taken to hospital in a deep coma. Interior minister Pilar Mazzetti said police were right to use live bullets.
The courts gave the media a rough year. The Lima public prosecutor called on 15 August for an eight-year prison term for Mauricio Aguirre Corvalán, former presenter of TV station Canal 4’s programme Cuarto Poder, for “disclosing state secrets.” The journalist had shown a video in September 2003 of ex-President Alberto Fujimori made when he was in power in 1998. Fujimori’s son Alberto had used it during his father’s election campaign in 2000 and had allowed the media to use it. Aguirre Corvalán was cleared in October 2006. His prosecution violated the Organisation of American States Declaration of Principle on Freedom of Expression, which Peru has ratified.
Journalist Humberto Ortiz Pajuelo still risks a four-year prison sentence and payment of €2,500 damages for an “offence against the judicial system” after refusing to reveal his sources in an extortion case involving an intelligence official.
Killers at large or released from prison
Five people who killed radio station Frecuencia Oriental journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández in the east-central town of Pucallpa in April 2004, were jailed in February 2006 for between 10 and 30 years each, but those who ordered the killing (former mayor Luis Valdez Villacorta and town councillor Solio Ramírez Garay) were freed on a habeas corpus writ in April and went into hiding. The ex-mayor of the western town of Yungay, Amaro León León, and two henchmen were freed on 20 July by the Ancash provincial supreme court after being sentenced on appeal to 17 years in prison each for the 2004 murder of journalist Antonio de la Torre Echeandia.