Freedom House Condemns Defamation Sentences in Peru
Freedom House condemns the prison sentence handed down by a Peruvian criminal court against two journalists on charges of criminal defamation and calls upon the government of Peru to overturn this sentence and to repeal criminal defamation laws which encourage self-censorship, thereby restricting freedom of expression.
News editor Juan Carlos Tafur and journalist Roberto More were sentenced to two years in prison and fined more than $22,000 U.S. dollars. The charges stemmed from an article published in newspaper, Diario 16, which linked family members of former Minister of Interior, Antonio Ketin Vidal Herrera, to the Sanchez Paredes family who have alleged ties to drug trafficking and money laundering.
According to the journalists’ defense team, they will appeal the sentences due to irregularities in the trial which were in violation of due process, including the failure to allow More and Tafur to testify in their own defense. The Judicial Anticorruption Unit (Unidad de Investigación y Anticorrupción de la Oficina del Control de la Magistratura) has requested that the presiding judge, Chavez Hernandez, be fined for these irregularities.
Freedom House has continually expressed concerns for the use of outdated legal provisions such as libel to silence journalists and urges Peru to follow the example of other countries in the region to decriminalize libel and use civil procedures on defamation cases.
Peru is ranked Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2012.