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Attempt to censor private university publication reported

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 16 July 2009, student Javier Martell Quispe, who is the editor of "El Estándar Social", a university publication, reported to IPYS that authorities at the Catholic Pontifical University of Peru (PUCP) are attempting to censor the media outlet he is in charge of. Martell does not know the reasons for the attempt to censor his publication.

"El Estándar Social" was created in 2006 and analyses political and social issues. It consists of a web site, yearly print publication and three display newspapers that are posted at several locations on the university's campus.

The problems began in June when university authorities from the Science General Studies Faculty issued an order for one of the university publication's display newspapers be taken to a storeroom, claiming it was publishing political propaganda for candidates during student elections. Martell says that the display newspaper only contained interviews with the candidates and that the other faculties displayed the same articles without objections being raised. Martell was able to videotape the display newspaper inside the storeroom in spite of a security guard's attempts to stop him. The university authorities have opened disciplinary proceedings against him alleging that he assaulted the security guard. However, the videotapes shown to IPYS by Martell reveal that this never happened.

On 13 July, Martell received a letter from the Social Science Faculty's academic secretary, Luis Mujica, warning him that he had 24 hours to remove his display newspaper from that faculty's premises until such time as he "obtained the necessary permits." Martell showed IPYS the application forms he presented in 2006 to Mujica himself as well as to the faculty's dean, Rolando Ames, requesting permission for the newspaper to be displayed. He said this was the first time he had received a letter of the kind sent by Mujica. On 15 July, the display copy of "El Estándar Social" located in the Social Science Faculty was also moved into storage.

Mujica told IPYS that he could not comment on the "El Estándar Social" issue because of the internal nature of the matter.

Article 120 of the PUCP's statute guarantees students the right to "express their ideas freely, respecting those of others and the institution's essential aims." IPYS urges the university authorities to reconsider this case as it constitutes a restriction on freedom of expression.

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