International PEN protests the one-year prison sentence handed down to Nor Oriente editor Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco on January 12, 2010, for alleged “aggravated defamation” of a local official in a case dating back to 2005. There were a number of apparent irregularities in the trial and it is widely believed that Carrascal’s conviction is retaliation for his criticism of the authorities, in violation of his right to freedom of expression. PEN is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco, director and editor of the regional weekly newspaper Nor Oriente, was arrested in Bagua, capital of Utcumbamba province, Amazonas department, on January 11, and held in police custody overnight. He appeared in court the next day where he was given a one-year prison sentence for allegedly defaming a local official in a series of articles alleging corruption in the Utcumbamba technological institute. The case was brought by a former director of the institute in 2005.

Carrascal, who reportedly suffers from high blood pressure, fainted during the hearing and was taken to a hospital. However, the judge completed the sentencing in his absence and the editor was transferred the same day from the hospital to the San Humberto prison in Bagua. He has reportedly appealed the sentence.

There were a number of apparent irregularities in the trial. In addition to being sentenced in absentia, Carrascal says he had not received any notification that the court’s decision was due. According to one local press report, the defamation case against him had previously been abandoned by the plaintiff.

Local journalists and Carrascal’s family have condemned his conviction as an act of “revenge” and the prison sentence is widely seen as punishment for his editorial line. Nor Oriente is reportedly very critical of the authorities and Carrascal has been outspoken in his defense of the indigenous population and the Amazon region. For example, he publicly criticized the government over the security forces’ treatment of indigenous communities protesting against oil and mining projects in Bagua in June 2009 during which dozens of indigenous people were killed, scores were detained and around 200 injured.

This is the second case of a well-known Peruvian journalist being imprisoned for defamation in just over a year. Television presenter Magaly Medina was given a five-month sentence in October 2008 for allegedly defaming a football player. She was released at the end of 2008 after serving half of her sentence.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the one-year prison sentence handed down to Nor Oriente editor Alejandro Carrascal Carrasco on January 12, 2010, for alleged “aggravated defamation” of a local official in a case dating back to 2005;
  • Pointing out that there were a number of apparent irregularities in Carrascal’s trial, including his reportedly not being notified of the final hearing and being sentenced in absentia;
  • Expressing concern that Carrascal’s conviction is in retaliation for his critical reporting on the authorities, in violation of his right to freedom of expression;
  • Calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Send Your Letter To

President
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 

Minister of Justice
Dr. Aurelio Pastor Valdivieso,
Ministro de Justicia
Scipión Llona N° 350, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Fax: + 51 1 422 3577
Email: apastor@minjus.gob.pe 

Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Peru in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after March 15, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org