Bogotá, February 27, 2020 — Peruvian authorities should investigate the assault of journalist Jimmy Alejandro Castillo Gamarra and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 10:30 p.m. on February 21, in the town of San Marcos, in northern Peru, a local municipal worker attacked Castillo and told him to “stop messing with the mayor,” according to Castillo, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview, and a statement by the National Association of Journalists of Peru, a local industry group.
Castillo, a radio reporter and news director of the privately owned broadcaster Radio San Pedro, said the attacker, whom he identified as Richar Huaccho Sigueñas, hit him several times with a beer bottle and with his fists. Castillo said he often interviews critics of public officials, and said that Sigueñas is a close confidant of San Marcos Mayor Christian Palacios Laguna.
Castillo said Sigueñas broke his nose and bruised his face and arms. He was treated at a local hospital and said he intends to return to work next week. He said he reported the attack to police.
CPJ was unable to locate contact information for Sigueñas, and multiple calls to the San Marcos town hall were not returned.
“Peruvian authorities should conduct a prompt and thorough investigation into the assault suffered by Jimmy Castillo and hold those responsible to account,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “Journalists should be free to report on elected authorities without fear of retaliation or violence, whether at the behest of the officials or by their supporters.”
Castillo said the attack may have been in retaliation for his frequent on-air interviews with civic leaders in San Marcos who have accused the mayor of corruption, mismanagement of public works, and nepotism. CPJ’s calls to the mayor’s office were not returned.