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Journalist gets intimidating calls after covering mining conflict

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 22 July 2012, journalist Jacqueline Fowks, correspondent in Peru for the Spanish newspaper El País, reported to IPYS that she had received two phone calls of a sexual nature that she considered intimidating. She linked them to her recent coverage of social conflict caused by the Conga mining project. This took place in Lima, the national capital.

Fowks said she had travelled to Cajamarca a few days earlier to cover the meetings of priests who are acting as mediators in the conflict, which took place at three of the four lakes that would be affected if the project proceeds. She also followed up on the news of the three deaths that took place a few weeks ago during the state of emergency declared in Celendín, where most of the mineral deposit is located.

On Thursday 19 July, the journalist granted an interview to La Mula TV's program El Arriero, broadcasted from Lima via the Internet, on her impressions of the coverage, highlighting the amount of people who were present at the meetings with the priests, as well as the lingering indignation felt by the population of Celendín against the central government, the police and the army because of the lack of an investigation into the murders, which, she said, the media in Lima had not mentioned. A day later she also uploaded several photographs of her trip, to the Internet, with similar comments.

After her return to Lima, on the night of 20 July, the journalist received a short phone call, made from a cell phone, that included sexual content. Although the call was suspicious, she believed it had been a mistake. The next night, at approximately the same time, she received a similar phone call, although from a land line this time. This led her to believe she was being targeted and that it could be related to her comments about what she saw and said about the mining conflict in Cajamarca.

The journalist, who has never been threatened before, even as a result of larger investigations, expressed her unease via Twitter and has stated that she will go to the National Police Criminalistics Division (DIVINCRI) to request an investigation.

IPYS condemns all forms of intimidation of journalists that seek to silence free expression and calls on the national police to carry out a swift investigation.

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