New York, June 10, 2010—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Wednesday’s sentencing of radio journalist Oswaldo Pereyra Moreno to one year in prison on criminal defamation charges in San Lorenzo, northern Peru, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews.
The charges against Pereyra, host of the show “Hora 13” on
Radio Macarena, stemmed from a September 2009 broadcast about an illegal abortion
allegedly given to an unnamed 14-year-old girl in a local pharmacy, the
reporter told CPJ. The story was also
published by the Iquitos-based newspaper La
Región, María Isabel Pérez, a journalist for the paper, told CPJ. The
newspaper has not been sued.
A local judge found that Pereyra had harmed the reputation of the young woman’s stepfather, José Montenegro, who
was named on the show, and sentenced the host to one year in jail along with a
fine of 10,000 Peruvian soles (US$3,500), prosecutor Yrving Vazquez told CPJ. Pereyra is being held at a police station in San Lorenzo,
and will be transferred to a detention center in Iquitos next week, Vazquez said. Pereyra told CPJ he will
appeal the conviction to a higher court.
“We urge the Peruvian judicial authorities to reverse Pereyra’s conviction on
appeal,” said CPJ Americas Program Senior Coordinator Carlos Lauría. “Peruvian
authorities must immediately implement reforms to eliminate these archaic
defamation provisions, which run counter to international standards on freedom
Pereyra is the second
journalist jailed on defamation charges in Peru this year, CPJ research shows.
On January 14, a local court sentenced Alejandro
Carrascal Carrasco, a reporter with weekly Nor Oriente in the Amazonian city of Bagua, to one year in prison in connection to
a series of articles he wrote in 2005 alleging corruption in a local public
There is an emerging consensus in Latin
America that civil remedies provide adequate redress in cases of
alleged defamation. In December 2009, the Costa Rican Supreme Court eliminated
prison terms for criminal defamation. One month earlier, in November 2009, the
Argentine Congress repealed
criminal defamation provisions in the penal code. And in April 2009, Brazil’s
Supreme Federal Tribunal annulled
the 1967 Press Law, a measure that had imposed harsh penalties for libel and
Courts in Colombia,
Costa Rica and Chile have recently
followed the growing regional consensus against criminal defamation.