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GALI report reveals public officials are the worst free expression offenders in the Andean region

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - Ecuador is the country that registered the most attacks in 2011, and where as a percentage, public officials and the State were the worst aggressors; in Peru, those who were attacked the most were journalists and common citizens; in Venezuela aggressions were mostly physical and verbal; and in Bolivia, more than half of the attacks took place in the country's capital. This and other information can be gathered from the 2011 annual report on freedom of expression produced by the Andean Group for Freedom of Information (GALI).

Of the 465 aggressions registered by GALI's members in each one of the mentioned countries, 156 took place in Ecuador; 118 in Peru; 97 in Bolivia and 94 in Venezuela. According to the report, the aggressions reached their climax towards the middle of the year, sometimes a bit before or a bit later, due to specific situations such as general elections in Peru or the lawsuit for millions of dollars against the newspaper "El Universo" in Ecuador. The country with the most equally divided number of aggressions was Bolivia, where a maximum of 11 were registered each month, with a monthly average of eight.

According to the GALI report, most aggressions took place in the different countries' capital cities. In Venezuela, 50 out of 94 took place in Caracas. In Bolivia 50 out of 97 occurred in La Paz and in Ecuador, 67 out of 156 (43%) occurred in Pichincha, the province that has Quito for its capital. The exception was Peru, where the Cajamarca region, with 27 attacks, displaced Lima, which registered two less this year. The reason: the strike against the Conga mining project, initiated on 24 November 2011, which lasted until well into December. This turned several journalists into the mistaken targets of social protests.

Individual persons were the preferred target of the aggressors: 391 journalists and common citizens were attacked, nearly four times the 104 groups and organisations (media, NGOs, etc.) that were also affected by the aggressions, according to GALI. To these must be added 75 aggressions against the press system itself and freedom of expression.

Of the total number of attacks, 84 of those directed against informative freedoms were issued from the State itself. This, however, is even more notorious as a percentage in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. Nevertheless, in all four countries public officials aimed their aggressions against journalists mainly, whom they insulted, filed charges against, ordered to be beaten and even killed, as suspected in Peru after three of them were murdered in 2011.

The Andean Group for Freedom of Information (GALI) is an association of leading organizations that work for the promotion of informative liberties and an independent press, which have come together with the aim of promoting respect for the freedoms of the press and of expression in the countries that comprise it. The Group was created in June 2009 and is made up by Bolivia's National Press Association (ANP), Fundamedios of Ecuador, IPYS Perú and IPYS Venezuela.

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Click below to download additional information on the situation in Peru:
GALI_Aggressions_in_Perú.doc (24 KB)

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