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Radio station manager assaulted and injured by mayor of Paucarpata; reporter and cameraman assaulted by university rector's lawyer

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is concerned about a new outbreak of physical attacks and threats on the news media since the end of August 2008, which is indicative of a careless attitude on the part of the police and judiciary towards those responsible for violence against journalists.

"Journalists are once again being used as whipping boys by irate officials, disgruntled political and union activists, coca growers upset by threats to their interests and police who abuse their authority," RSF said. "The fact that those responsible for these attacks are often officials or politicians tends to discourage prosecutions, which makes it more likely that they will occur again."

RSF added, "A supreme court decision on 11 June to uphold 17 and 15 year prison sentences for two military personnel convicted of the 1988 murder of 'Caretas' magazine correspondent Hugo Bustíos poses a serious challenge to the prevailing impunity. A similar stand is needed with other attacks on journalists, all of which constitute press freedom violations."

According to the Institute for Press and Society (El Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS), a Peruvian press freedom organisation, and the National Association of Journalists (Asociación Nacional de Periodistas, ANP), at least ten journalists have been the target of threats or violence since the end of August.

Reporter Felipe Tipián Ramírez and cameraman Charles Cubas Ojanama were assaulted on 30 August by lawyer Líster Celis Vela as his client, San Martín University rector Alfredo Quinteros García, was being brought into a police station to be arrested for alleged irregularities in his re-election. Ramírez and Cubas Ojanama work for TV Tarapoto, a privately-owned regional television station based in Tarapoto, in the northern region of San Martín.

Dante Francisco Espeza of La Pegajosa, a regional radio station based near the southern city of Ayacucho, received a threatening phone call on 2 September after criticising on air the illegal cultivation of coca and drug trafficking. The caller threatened to kill him and said he was familiar with all of Espeza's family members' movements. Espeza was threatened in a similar fashion on 9 July.

Journalist Percy Uriarte was hit several times when approximately 50 truck drivers stormed into the offices of the daily "Ahora", in the northern city of Bagua Grande, on 2 September and threatened to set fire to the premises because it had reported that local transport trucks were being used to transport drugs.

Cameraman Walter Macuyama of Canal 19 television station, Henry Sánchez of Canal 43 and Gustavo Vásquez and Patricia Macedo of Panamericana Televisión were attacked and beaten on 3 September in the northeastern city of Iquitos by health sector workers striking for better conditions. The health workers were in the midst of a confrontation with colleagues of theirs who opposed the strike.

Radio Frecuencia 1000 radio station manager and programme host Filomeno Quispe Flores was assaulted and injured by Justo Mayta Livici, the mayor of Paucarpata, a district near the southern city of Arequipa, while covering a municipal council meeting on 4 September. The mayor had already taken Quispe to task after an interview he conducted last June.

For further information on the Bustíos case, see:

For further information on the Espeza case, see:

For further information on the attacks on journalists, media workers and media outlets by health sector workers and truck drivers, see:

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