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Radio stations and journalists threatened, harassed in La Joya and Otuzco

(IPYS/IFEX) - Radio stations and their journalists in two different regions of Peru have recently been threatened or harassed for attempting to cover news in their areas.

The owner, administrator and journalists of radio station La Karibeña, in the district of La Joya, Arequipa region, reported to IPYS that they are being harassed by persons close to that district's mayor, David Inofuentes Mamani, for requesting information about the district council's expenditures.

The radio station's owner, Patricia Cornejo, told IPYS that on 6 November 2007, Julio César Santillana - who is on very close terms with the mayor - telephoned the station and threatened the administrator, David Luque Ylaquita, warning him that "something bad would happen to him and his family if he didn't shut up" and that the same went for the other journalists. Santillana was very insulting and used a lot of strong language. Unidentified individuals arrived at the station's headquarters and threw stones at the building, smashing one of the windows, while the telephone call was taking place.

Luque Ylaquita and the journalists Miguel Carazas and Walter Payé had requested information about expenditures in municipal works, budget, personnel in sensitive positions, advisers, acquisition of services, among other things, from the La Joya district council. A written reply sent by Mayor Inofuentes indicated that in order to obtain the information they would have to pay 20,600 soles (approx. US$6,800). IPYS believes that this response violates the Transparency and Access to Public Information Law.

After the incidents, Luque Ylaquita, Carazas and Payé requested protection from the local government.

In a separate development in another region, on 13 November, Radio Chami journalist Sandra Lander Rato was thrown out of a meeting of the city of Otuzco's municipal council by the mayor, Diómedes Venero Ortecho, in spite of the radio station having authorization to cover the event. As he showed her out of the council building, the official warned her that there were some unresolved matters between him and her and the radio station. Otuzco is located in the region of La Libertad, northwestern Peru.

The radio station's director, José Fajardo, reported to IPYS that the act of aggression came in response to accusations of alleged acts of corruption perpetrated by the mayor that were broadcast by Radio Chami. Fajardo pointed out that his journalists have also been threatened and placed under surveillance this year, due to the coverage of the alleged corruption and also because of his citizen's watch programme.

He warned that if anything more serious happened, the main suspect would be the mayor.

The act of aggression was reported to the local police, who ordered that the journalist be examined by a doctor and will investigate the case.

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