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IAPA welcomes creation of special tribunals to deal with serious crimes against journalists

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, November 24, 2010 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed its pleasure to Peru's judiciary at its decision to create a special jurisdiction to deal with serious crimes committed against journalists as they carry out their role to report the news, a step that the organization had described as "of far-reaching importance for the battle against impunity" in a resolution adopted at its General Assembly held in the Mexican city of Mérida earlier this month.

The judiciary's decision entered into force on November 5 with the publication in Peru's Official Gazette of Administrative Resolution No. 187/2010 of the Judicial Branch's Executive Council of May 26, 2010, which extends the authority of the National Criminal Court and the Lima provincial criminal tribunals to hear cases of homicide, murder, serious injury, kidnapping and extortion of journalists while they are carrying out their work.

The IAPA's incoming president, Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, expressed his "satisfaction at this action, which represents a significant step forward against the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists, because it gives the justice system the force to be able to deal more directly and effectively with offenses against press freedom, which we trust will become a greater deterrent so as to halt those who would resort to violence."

The call by the IAPA for such a move, made in conjunction with the Peruvian Press Council, arose from the "Hemisphere Conference: The Judiciary, The Press, and Impunity" that was held in the Dominican Republic in 2008, in which the need was raised to combat the failure to solve a number of crimes committed against Peruvian journalists, among them the April 21, 2004 murder of Alberto Rivera Fernández.

Marroquín had in May this year led an IAPA international mission to Peru in which former IAPA President Danilo Arbilla, of Uruguay, Executive Director Julio E. Muñoz and Press Freedom Director Ricardo Trotti also took part.

At a joint press conference of the IAPA delegation and Peruvian Supreme Court Chief Justice Javier Vila Stein, the latter had pledged to bring about the creation of a special jurisdiction to deal with serious crimes committed against journalists as they practice their profession. In Peru serious offenses linked to terrorism and drug trafficking are already dealt with by special tribunals.

The IAPA resolution adopted at the General Assembly had also expressed to the Peruvian Supreme Court its great concern at irregularities in legal proceedings against those allegedly responsible for Rivera Fernández's death.

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