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Peru death squad's next victim?

This statement was originally published on rsf.org on 25 August 2016.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the authorities to identify and arrest those responsible for the threats to newspaper reporter Doris Aguirre and to guarantee the safety of Peru's journalists. Aguirre was threatened after revealing the existence of a death squad within the Peruvian National Police (PNP).

A well-known investigative journalist with La República, one of Peru's leading dailies, Doris Aguirre says she received anonymous calls on her mobile phone on 12 August in which she was insulted and threatened with being the death squad's next victim.

The threats followed a series of five reports published by La República in July in which she alleged that members of the PNP had participated in a death squad responsible for the extrajudicial executions of at least 27 persons.

Her claims caused an outcry and prompted a judicial investigation that acknowledged on 22 August that there was hard evidence confirming the implication of police officers in these deadly operations.

“It is absolutely essential that the Peruvian authorities identify the source of these threats and bring those responsible to justice,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF's Latin America desk. “In view of the gravity of La República's revelations and the ensuing judicial investigation's initial findings, the threats against Doris Aguirre must be taken very seriously and must be dealt with in a manner that is beyond reproach. The authorities have a duty to protect journalists in danger and to guarantee the free flow of news and information, regardless of their nature.”

RSF extends its fullest support to Aguirre, who said that these threats “have changed my life.”

The PNP death squad affair continues to make the news. The government acknowledged three days ago that a group of senior and junior PNP officers had summarily executed at 27 alleged criminals between 2012 and 2015 while pretending to conduct official operations.

The administration of Peru's new president, Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who took office on 28 July, has said it is ready to carry out a complete overhaul of the PNP, which is regarded as corrupt and not efficient.

Peru is ranked 84th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2016 World Press Freedom Index.

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