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Peru - World Report 2009

108 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index

-  Area: 1,285,220 sq. km.
-  Population: 29,000,000
-  Language: Spanish
-  Head of state: Alan Garcia Perez, since July 2006

Officials, police, union leaders and even sometimes elected representatives are responsible for frequent direct attacks committed openly against journalists. Despite the recent conviction of former president, Alberto Fujimori, impunity is still the rule in the most serious cases

Attacks against media, physical assaults and threats against journalists are traditionally high in a country still scarred by years of civil war pitting the army against Shining Path rebels that left 70,000 dead between 1980 and 2000. Even though the Maoist guerrillas are reduced to a shadow of their former strength, their name can still be used to arouse fear in journalists in areas where the chief risk to their safety actually comes from drug trafficking. Murders are rare. A particular feature of Peru however is the direct assaults against journalists committed openly by officials, police officers, trade union leaders and even sometimes by elected representatives. The type of person behind the attacks goes a long way to explaining the judicial foot-dragging that worsens the situation. The law moves slowly in the most serious cases, as evidenced by the final verdict in the superior court of justice in June 2008 against two soldiers were convicted of the murder 20 years earlier at the height of the “popular war”, of a correspondent for the magazine Caretas, Hugo Bustios. The 2004 murders of two radio journalists - Antonio de la Torre Echeandia and Alberto Rivera Fernandez - produced extraordinary legal turnarounds in order to protect the two elected representatives suspected of having ordered the killings. In both cases, the courts dealt much more firmly with the actual killers and intermediaries. Peru began to wind up past accounts with the long trial of Alberto Fujimori, who was accused of serious human rights violations during his presidency and was sentenced on 7 April 2009 to 25 years in prison. The former head of state was accused of the abduction and false imprisonment, in 1992, of journalist Gustavo Gorriti. The press was not in the clear either. At the start of 2009, Raul Wiener, head of investigative reporting on the daily La Primera, faced unlikely proceedings for “offence against public peace and terrorism” for revealing the opening of proceedings of the same kind against 13 people suspected of having links with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The case caused a scandal among members of Congress and the government was forced to deny any involvement.

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