2016 Peru: Rafael León Rodríguez

9 May, 2016: Peruvian journalist Rafael León Rodríguez convicted of Criminal Defamation

I – we journalists – need the support of everyone with democratic principles: make your opinion known on social media. I can’t explain how I feel except I have the sensation that I’m living through a Kafkaesque situation. If I’m convicted it would set a disastrous precedent for freedom of opinion and press in Peru. I leave it in your hands. (Facebook post from Rafo Leon, dated 12 April 2016)

Though May 3 was UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day, it was arguably just the opposite for Peruvian journalist and author Rafael León Rodríguez, (known as Rafo León). On this day, León was summoned for sentencing in response to a criminal defamation case brought against him in 2014 by Martha Meier Miró Quesada, then general editor and columnist for El Comercio, one of Peru’s leading newspapers.

León was found guilty of defamation, given a one year suspended sentence, and ordered to pay $1,800 in damages to Meier. The suspended sentence is subject to Rodríguez’s completion of one year of ‘good behavior,’ requiring him to report regularly to the authorities and to request permission before leaving the country. This conviction and sentencing have arrived more than nine months after the trial ended in July 2015; León’s defence, supported by the Peruvian free expression organisation Instituto de Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), called for the sentence to be annulled and a new trial to be held, alleging unjustified delays and irregularities in due process. This request was denied by the court.

León is known for his columns for the Lima-based weekly newsmagazine Caretas, as well as his travel accounts and short stories. Though his circumstances may be unique, his position as a targeted journalist is unfortunately not. León’s case forms just one piece of the larger picture, in which criminal defamation restricts freedom of expression for journalists around the globe.

The Special Rapporteurs for freedom of expression of the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have stated: Criminal defamation is not a justifiable restriction on freedom of expression; all criminal defamation laws should be abolished and replaced, where necessary, with appropriate civil defamation laws.”

The right to freedom of expression and opinion is protected under the Peruvian Constitution (Article 2.4) and international law including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 19), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19) and the American Convention on Human Rights (Article 13).

Although the Peruvian state has publicly committed to decriminalizing defamation, and reducing it to a civil offense, new policies and protections have yet to be implemented through legislation. Similar struggles face writers in Europe, where 23 of 28 EU Member States continue to have criminalized defamation laws. As Joe Glanville reports, “An alarming number of states impose excessive criminal penalties for insulting royalty—it can get you six years in jail in Sweden—and there are similarly worrying consequences for insulting a head of state”.

Norwegian PEN and the Norwegian WiPC support the stance of PEN International, wherein, “convicting León of criminal defamation for an opinion piece on a matter of public interest would be a violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion protected under national and international law”. We therefore urge the Peruvian authorities to urgently overturn León’s conviction and to remove defamation from the State’s criminal code. To read our letter to the Peruvian authorities, click here: Link

Additional Information:

To send messages of solidarity to Rafo León via Tamsin Mitchell: tamsin.mitchell@pen-international.org

For more information about current criminal defamation practices in the EU, see Glanville’s articles at: https://europe.newsweek.com/why-we-urgently-need-reform-criminal-defamation-law-452587?rm=eu

For news on English PEN and ILI’s endeavours to decriminalize defamation in Europe, see: https://www.englishpen.org/press/criminal-defamation-in-the-eu/

Article written by: Iva Gavanski, Advisor for Norwegian WiPC and Norwegian PEN. 9 May, 2016.

 

 

 

2009: Peru: Melissa Patiño

Bergen, 9. March 2009

His Excellency,
Dr. Alan García Pérez
Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 1 311 3940

Your Excellency

As a member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN, I am deeply concerned by charges of terrorism against poet Melissa Patiño.
Melissa Patiño has been charged for “affiliation and collaboration with terrorism” apparently on the basis of her attendance at the meeting of the Bolivarian Continental Coordinator (CCB.)

On 8 May 2008, after almost two and a half months’ incarceration, Patiño was released on bail and allowed to return home pending trial. Peru’s antiterrorist prosecutor appealed against the decision to release her but this was rejected in early October 2008, meaning that Patiño should remain free on bail for the duration of her trial. She potentially faces 20 years in prison if convicted. To date no concrete evidence has been produced to back up the charges.

I seek your assurance, Your Excellency, to ensure she receives a free and fair trial; alternatively, to drop all charges against her.

Confident that you, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely,

Trine Kleven
Member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

COPIES TO:
The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo

Perus ambassade, Brunnsgatan 21 B, S-111 38 Stockholm
Tlf: 468 440 87 40 – Faks: 468 20 55 92
E-post: emba.perusuec@telia.com
Hjemmeside: http://www.peruvian-embassy.com/

2008: Peru: Melisssa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza (2)

Head of State and Government
Dr. Alan García Pérez
Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima, Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 13113940
Email: messages can be sent to the President via the following link: http://www.presidencia.gob.pe/cartas_presidente.asp

Oslo, 29, May 2008

Your Excellency,

I, as a member of Writers in Prison Committe of Norwegian PEN am welcoming the release pending trial of the young poet Melisssa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza. I am Calling on the Peruvian authorities either to provide evidence to back up the charges of terrorism against Patiño, and to ensure she receives a free and fair trial;
Alternatively, to drop all charges against her.

Confident that You, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely

Unni Malmø
member of Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

Copies to:
Minister of Justice
Dra. Rosario Fernández Figueroa
Ministra de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia, Scipión LLona N° 350, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Fax: + 51 1 422 3577
Email: informate@minjus.gob.pe

Human Rights Ombudsman
Dra. Beatriz Merino
Director
Defensoría del Pueblo
Jirón Ucayali 388, Lima-Perú
Fax: +51 1 426 7889
Email: centrodeatencionvirtual@defensoria.gob.pe

Ministry of Norwegian Foreign Affairs, Oslo, Norway

Diplomatic representatives of Peru in Norway
Brunnsgatan 21 B, S-111 38 Stockholm
Tlf: 468 440 87 40 – Faks: 468 20 55 92
E-post: emba.perusuec@telia.com

Diplomatic representatives of Norway in Peru
Consulado General de Lima
Tel.: +51 1 475 2925
Fax: +51 1 475 2864
E-mail: norkonslima@terra.com.pe
Dirección: Real Consulado General de Noruega, Avenida del Parque Norte 605, Of. 301
San Isidro, Lima 27, Perú
Cónsul General: Lars Georg Fernando Stimman

2008: Peru: Melisssa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza

Oslo, 01, April 2008

Head of State and Government
Dr. Alan García Pérez
Presidente de la República del Perú
Jr. de la Unión S/N 1ra. Cuadra, Cercado de Lima
Lima
Peru

Fax: +51 1 311 3940 (call and ask for ‘tono de fax, por favor’)

Email: messages can be sent to the President via the following link: http://www.presidencia.gob.pe/cartas_presidente.asp

Your Excellency,

I, as a member of Writers in Prison Committe of Norwegian PEN am calling on the Peruvian authorities either to provide evidence to back up the charges of terrorism against the young poet Melisssa Rocío Patiño Hinostroza, or alternatively to release her immediately and unconditionally.

Confident that You, Your Excellency, will take action accordingly, I remain,

Yours sincerely

Unni Malmø
Member, Writers in Prison Committee, Norwegian PEN

Copies to:

Minister of Justice
Dra. Rosario Fernández Figueroa
Ministra de Justicia
Ministerio de Justicia, Scipión LLona N° 350, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Fax: +51 1 311 3940
Email: informate@minjus.gob.pe

Ministry of Norwegian Foreign Affairs, Oslo, Norway

Diplomatic representatives of Peru in Norway
Brunnsgatan 21 B, S-111 38 Stockholm
Tlf: 468 440 87 40 – Faks: 468 20 55 92
E-post: emba.perusuec@telia.com

Diplomatic representatives of Norway in Peru
Consulado General de Lima
Tel.: +51 1 475 2925
Fax: +51 1 475 2864
E-mail: norkonslima@terra.com.pe

Dirección: Real Consulado General de Noruega, Avenida del Parque Norte 605, Of. 301
San Isidro, Lima 27, Perú
Cónsul General: Lars Georg Fernando Stimman
Vicecónsul: María del Carmen Gandolfo