IFEX-ALC is concerned over reports of obstruction of justice in the case involving retired general and current Peruvian presidential candidate Daniel Urresti Elera. Urresti has been accused of involvement in the 1988 murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos Saavedra. The IFEX-ALC alliance calls on Peruvian judicial authorities to bring 32 years of impunity in the Bustíos case to an end.
Urresti has on numerous occasions blocked efforts to link him to Bustíos’s assassination. In 2018, a first level National Criminal Court ruling exonerated Urresti of involvement in the crime. In 2019, however, the Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision and ordered a new trial, declaring that there had been a failure to fully consider all the evidence in the case. In compliance with the Supreme Court order, Urresti is currently being tried by the Specialized Third Chamber National Transitory Superior Criminal Court.
Media outlets recently reported that two witnesses in the case have said they were subjected to attempts to pay them hush money in exchange for refraining from incriminating Urresti in the crime. The Third Chamber Court has asked the Public Prosecutor’s Office to provide protection to those who have said they were targeted with attempts at bribery.
The international community is watching developments in the trial and the actions of the Third Chamber Court in this case, which involves an individual who has for years used various methods to obstruct justice for the sole purpose of ensuring ongoing impunity.
As has been stated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, impunity “fosters the chronic repetition of human rights violations and the total defenselessness of victims and their relatives.” A culture of impunity prevents citizens from fully participating in civic life, which is an essential element for a healthy democracy.
We, the members of the IFEX-ALC alliance:
- Condemn the attempt to silence witnesses in order to ensure impunity for Daniel Urresti, who has been accused of involvement in the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos Saavedra. We also call for a thorough investigation into the reports of bribery attempts.
- We call on the members of the Specialized Third Chamber National Transitory Superior Criminal Court to ensure imparciality, transparency and adherence to the right to truth in the trajectory of the judicial process against Urresti.
- We trust that, after 32 years, the Bustíos case will become a precedent for justice in the crimes against Peruvian journalists that have gone unpunished for decades.
IFEX-ALC, which forms part of the global IFEX network, is comprised of 24 organisations in 14 Latin American and Caribbean countries dedicated to defending freedom of expression and press freedom.