Dozens of journalists harassed, injured amid Peru protests

Supporters of ousted President Pedro Castillo clash with police forces in the Peruvian city of Juliaca, on January 7, 2023. Dozens of journalists have been attacked and harassed amid protests following Castillo’s impeachment. (AFP/Juan Carlos Cisneros)

HAVANA TIMES – In response to reports that more than 70 journalists have been harassed and attacked amid anti-government protests in Peru, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for authorities to ensure reporters’ safety:

“We are alarmed by the dozens of attacks on journalists in Peru covering anti-government protests,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “Authorities need to make sure reporters are protected and can safely cover issues of public interest, and should thoroughly investigate all attacks on the press.”

At a news conference in Lima on Tuesday, January 10, Peruvian National Association of Journalists President Zuliana Lainez said that at least 72 journalists had been harassed or attacked since protests broke out in December, following the impeachment and arrest of former President Pedro Castillo.

In one incident on January 7, police officers threatened to kill Aldair Mejía, a photographer for the Spanish news agency EFE who was covering anti-government demonstrations in the city of Juliaca, telling the journalist they would “blow your head off” if he continued taking photos of the protests, according to news reports and his employer. Officers later shot Mejía in the leg with pellets, breaking his right tibia, according to those sources. CPJ texted Mejía for comment but did not immediately receive any response.

“We are deeply worried about police repression, especially against journalists,” Lainez said at the news conference.

Asked by reporters Tuesday about police violence against protesters and journalists, Raul Alfaro, commander of Peru’s national police force, did not respond directly but claimed that the police were victims of a “disinformation campaign” designed to discredit them and generate panic, reports said. CPJ emailed the police press office in Lima for comment but did not immediately receive any response.

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