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Two journalists assaulted, others harassed or their work impeded, in different regions

(IPYS/IFEX) - IPYS is concerned about various acts of aggression, intimidation and obstruction of access committed against journalists in different regions of the country between 7 and 16 February 2008.

On 7 February, security personnel of Loreto's Regional Government barred journalist Nolberto Silvano, a reporter with La Voz radio station, from entering the premises where the Regional Council meeting was taking place, in spite of this event being public. According to Silvano, the security personnel said written permission from the Regional Government's Protocol Office was required for entry. The journalist had sought but was denied permission. In response to a complaint filed by the journalist, a spokesperson for the regional government denied that the journalist had been barred from the event. The incident occurred in the city of Iquitos, Loreto region, in northeastern Peru.

On 8 February, journalist Richard Salvatierra Cajo, director of Radio Sistema 95.3 FM's programme "Revelación Periodística", affirmed that the radio station's general manager, Jorge Therese Huamani, suddenly cancelled his programme after telling him that a municipal savings institution, the Caja Municipal, had threatened to discontinue its paid advertisements with the media outlet because of the journalist's reporting. Salvatierra Cajo told IPYS that, a few days before, he had criticized the head of the Caja Municipal, a priest called Edmundo Hernández, for selling pisco - an alcoholic beverage - and wine. The incident took place in the city of Ica, southern Peru.

On 15 February, journalist Lázaro Humareda was assaulted by a merchant surnamed Quilla. The journalist suffered bruising to the face and arms. The attack took place a few blocks from the city of Huamanga's main square, in Ayacucho region, southern Peru. After examination by a medical doctor, as required by the law, the journalist filed a complaint with the local police station.

Humareda, who works for Canal 47 and hosts a programme on Radio Atlantis radio station, told IPYS that the attack may have been in retaliation for an interview he conducted a few months prior with Quilla's mother, in which she accused her son of having stolen some property from her. After the interview, Quilla threatened to kill the journalist.

On 16 February, journalist Jaime Fernández Barreto was beaten by councillor Maximandro Bustamante Portal and accountant Víctor Campos Zapata, both from the town of Huaral, district of Pacaraos, in Lima. Fernandez Barreto, host of the Radio Elite 104.1 FM programme "En Directo", told IPYS that the assailants ambushed him outside the radio's headquarters.

The journalist believes the assault is due to the investigations he is carrying out into the administration of Mayor Arturo Sarmiento Verástegui. Fernández Barreto has filed a complaint with the Huaral police headquarters and asked for measures to be taken to protect him and his family.

Also on 16 February, journalist Harold Chota Sánchez editor of "Ahora" newspaper, accused a former official of the municipality of Utcubamba, Almester Altamirano Montenegro, of throwing stones through the windows of the newspaper's offices. The incident took place in the town of Bagua Grande, Utcubamba province, in Amazonas. According to witnesses, the former official was drunk.

Chota Sánchez told IPYS that the attack may have been in retaliation for the newspaper's having denounced him for alleged acts of corruption when he worked for the municipality, the reason for which he, along with other officials, was fired. The journalist filed a report with the Utcubamba police.

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