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IAPA calls for creation of special court for crimes against journalists

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, October 5, 2010 - The president of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Alejandro Aguirre, today insisted to Peru's judiciary that a special jurisdiction be established to deal with crimes against journalists, an initiative that would encourage a full frontal attack upon impunity and which also has the support of that country's president, Alan García.

Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, in a note sent to Supreme Court Chief Justice Javier Villa Stein recalled a visit to Lima by the IAPA on May 21 this year in which he had pledged to put at the consideration of the judicial branch's Executive Council the idea of setting up a special criminal court that would hear cases of offenses against journalists committed because of the work they do.

This suggestion was revived by the IAPA at a press conference in Lima last week during a forum titled "Electronic Democracy and Freedom of Expression on the Internet," organized by IAPA and the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio.

The issue of pressure to have legal reforms to combat violence and impunity in cases of murder of journalists in Peru, as well as in Brazil and Mexico, will be raised at the IAPA's upcoming General Assembly to be held in Mérida, Mexico, November 5-9. In the note to the Supreme Court chief justice, Aguirre said that the creation of a special criminal court "would help speed up the solving of cases and thus combat impunity" and he asked him for information about how the initiative was progressing.

Villa Stein accepted the recommendations made by the IAPA in May, considering them to be beneficial, as, he said, "these kinds of cases have to be dealt with in a special way due to their seriousness andsociety's legally protected right to be informed."

The recommendations were also hailed at the time by President García during a meeting with the IAPA international delegation. He said that if the judiciary were to take up the matter his government would provide the funds needed to set up the special jurisdiction.

In the same framework, Congress Deputy Leader Michael Urtecho promised to send the IAPA recommendations to the Justice Committee. Among these was a need for constitutional amendment and legal reform establishing an increase in the length of detention in cases of crimes against journalists from 24 hours to 15 days and the doubling or tripling of statutes of limitations in such cases.

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