Bogotá, February 3, 2022 – Peruvian authorities must investigate the recent harassment of journalist Manuel Calloquispe, ensure his safety, and take steps to protect members of the press covering political protests, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.
On January 27, a group of about 200 protesters surrounded Calloquispe’s home in the eastern town of Puerto Maldonado and shouted insults at him, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke to CPJ via messaging app.
Later that day, while broadcasting a live TV report on anti-government demonstrations in Puerto Maldonado, Calloquispe said he received a series of screenshots from a WhatsApp group of protesters who discussed killing him, including one who summarized comments by others in the chat saying, “They want to kill Calloquispe because he is a traitor.”
Calloquispe, who reports for the Lima-based El Comercio newspaper and broadcaster Latina TV, said one of his editors called the police after he saw those threatening messages, and officers escorted him to an airport where he flew to Lima for his safety.
“Peruvian authorities must conduct a swift investigation into the threats to journalist Manuel Calloquispe, ensure that protesters who harassed him are held to account, and guarantee that he can continue covering protests safely,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, in New York. “The work of reporters covering the demonstrations is essential, and authorities need to take all possible measures to ensure their safety.”
Calloquispe told CPJ that he believed the threats are a response to his coverage of ongoing protests, which began in December after then President Pedro Castillo was impeached and arrested. He also cited a January 12 report he published in El Comercio alleging that illegal miners were helping finance the protests.
“They want me to stop reporting on the protests. That’s why they attacked me,” he said, adding that he plans to return to Puerto Maldonado to continue reporting.
Calloquispe filed a complaint about the harassment to the attorney general’s office in Lima. CPJ sent text messages seeking comment to prosecuting attorney Roberto Percca, who is investigating the case, and Walter Poma, the police chief in Puerto Maldonado, but did not receive any replies.
Dozens of journalists have been attacked and harassed while covering the protests in Peru.