International PEN protests the arrest and detention on June 26, 2010, of journalist Carlos Jerónimo Nuñez López, who was reportedly sentenced to one year in prison on libel charges without his knowledge. The charges against the 70-year-old stem from an article on environmental damage. PEN calls for Nuñez’s immediate release and for his conviction to be reviewed.

Background Information

Veteran journalist Carlos Jerónimo Nuñez López, aged 70, was arrested on June 26, 2010 to serve a one-year prison sentence for libel for an article on environmental damage. Nuñez reportedly had no knowledge of his conviction at the time of his detention. He was in an Internet café near his home in Panama City when he was arrested by the police following a routine identity check. Nuñez was taken into police custody and is currently being held at the Department of Judicial Enquiries.

The case against Nuñez reportedly stems from an article published a number of years ago (2005 or in the 1990s, according to different accounts) in the now defunct weekly newspaper La Crónica, in which Nuñez alleged that a landowner’s activities had damaged a river in Bocas del Toro province. The landowner reportedly brought a libel suit against Nuñez and in December 2006 he was sentenced to one year in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal in August 2008 but Nuñez’s lawyers reportedly failed to notify him of this. Nuñez has reportedly now exhausted all legal remedies and his current lawyer has requested that he be allowed to serve his sentence outside prison in light of his age.

Nuñez has worked for La Crónica and the daily newspaper Crítica and is currently writing for the news web site Estudio 1 Panama.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Panama has partially decriminalized defamation. Under Article 192 of the Panamanian penal code, which came into effect in May 2008, libel and slander are not subject to penal sanctions in the case of public officials.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the arrest and detention on June 26, 2010, of journalist Carlos Jerónimo Nuñez López to serve a one-year prison sentence for libel; Nuñez was reportedly unaware that his conviction had been confirmed on appeal in 2008;
  • Calling for Nuñez to be released immediately and for his case to be reviewed;
  • Calling also on the Panamanian authorities to decriminalize all forms of defamation, including libel.

Send Your Letter To

President of the Republic of Panamá
Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal
Presidente de la República de Panamá, Palacio Presidencial
Panamá 1, Republica de Panamá
Fax: +507 527 9034
Email: ofasin@presidencia.gob.pa
Salutation: Excmo. Sr. Presidente Martinelli Berrocal/Dear President Martinelli Berrocal

Procurator General
Giuseppe A. Bonissi C.,
Procurador General (temporary)
and Ana Matilde Gómez Ruiloba,
Procuradora General
Procuraduría General de la Nación
Avenida Peru Y Calle 33, Panama
Fax: + 507 507 3413
Email: procuradora@procuraduria.gob.pa

Minister of Government and Justice, Panama
Sra. Roxana Méndez
Ministra de Gobierno y Justicia
Apartado 1628, Panamá 1, Republica de Panamá
Fax: +507 512 6001
Email: despachosuperior@mingob.gob.pa
Salutation: Señora Ministra/Dear Minister

Please also send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Panama in your country if possible.
 
Please contact PEN if sending appeals after July 30, 2010: ftw [at] pen.org