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10 years after journalist's murder, Peru awaits justice

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10 years after journalist's murder, Peru awaits justice

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By Tania Lara

When highlighting violence against journalists and impunity in the Americas, countries like Mexico, Honduras, Colombia and Brazil come to mind. But impunity remains a serious problem in Peru as well.

Alberto Rivera Fernández

The material perpetrators of journalists’ murders tend to be put behind bars, but of the 52 journalists killed in the past 30 years, not a single intellectual author has been convicted. A shameful record for Peru's authorities.

“Ten years are exhausting”, says Patricia Rivera, daughter of the Peruvian journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández, who was killed on 21 April 2004.

In the months prior to his death, Rivera had denounced links between Luis Valdés Villacorta, then mayor in the province of Ucayali, and criminal activities, in his program “Transparencia”, broadcast on radio Frecuencia Oriental in Pucallpa. The journalist held him publically responsible should anything ever happen to him. A day later, two hit men shot him in the chest.

The two perpetrators of the crime were convicted in 2007, but Valdés and the city manager Solio Ramírez, were acquitted after being charged as the masterminds behind the killing.

“My dad was a 54-year-old man who was deprived of living with his family, he never got to meet any of his grandchildren”, says Patricia Rivera. Her and her family are still waiting for justice and truth, but on Friday 25 April, finally things might start to change.

A hearing at the Peruvian Supreme Court’s Criminal Tribunal will decide whether or not to overturn the latest acquittal of Valdés. If the acquittal is overturned, there will be a fourth trial that will hopefully put an end to impunity – at least for the Rivera Fernández case.

“There is substantial evidence against Valdés Villacorta but what is lacking is the political will of the judiciary to confront someone as powerful,” says attorney Juan José Quispe. At 75, Valdés is one of Peru’s top businessmen, but Quispe hopes this case will conclude with the first conviction in many for the masterminds behind the killings of Peruvian journalists.

Kela León, executive director at the Peruvian Press Council, says that “now more than ever, we must remain strong and send a clear message that journalists never give up if one of their kind is killed”.

After 10 years, Patricia Rivera has not lost faith. “We strongly believe that this time, there will be justice.”


Rodrigo Bonilla's picture

Rodrigo Bonilla


2014-04-24 19:04

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On Monday, April 23rd, at 11:30 pm, yet another journalist was murdered in Brazil. Décio Sá was shot six times in a bar in the city of São Luís, capital of the northern state of Maranhão. The 42 year-old and was a reporter for the newspaper O Estado do Maranhão. Décio was the fourth news professional murdered in the country in 2012.


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2012-05-18 17:22

In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...