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IFEX-ALC: The murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos must not remain unpunished

Palace of Justice, Supreme Court, Real Plaza, in Lima, Peru, 15 January 2012
Palace of Justice, Supreme Court, Real Plaza, in Lima, Peru, 15 January 2012

Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images

We, the 23 members of the IFEX-ALC network, who work to defend freedom of expression and press freedom in 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries and who form part of the broader IFEX network that defends and promotes free expression worldwide, are vigilantly awaiting a pronouncement by Peru's Supreme Court of Justice. The Court will rule on an appeal to nullify the sentence that absolved one of the alleged perpetrators of the murder of journalist Hugo Bustíos Saavedra.

The family of the journalist - who was brutally murdered 30 years ago (24 November 1988) - is not alone in its hope that the perpetrator's exoneration will be annulled. This verdict is crucial in the fight against impunity for crimes against journalists. Without a doubt, this is a litmus test for Peru's justice system and democracy; it is a valuable opportunity for the State to demonstrate that, within a democracy, murdering journalists does not happen with impunity.

The organizations that make up IFEX-ALC support those who want the acquittal of former minister Daniel Urresti to be revoked. Urresti was exonerated by the Criminal Division of the National Court, despite testimonials that directly implicated him in the horrible murder, and identified him as "Captain Arturo." The testimonials also allege that Urresti was present at the location where the crime took place.

Impunity for crimes against journalists is an issue that afflicts the entire world. In the past 11 years, more than 900 journalists and media workers have been killed in relation to their work. In 9 out of 10 cases, these crimes are not investigated, nor are they brought to account.

We live in a culture of impunity that permits people to threaten freedom of expression while knowing they will likely not be held accountable for their actions. The culture of impunity takes away from people's capacity to fully engage in civic life - an essential component of a healthy democracy.

The 23 organizations who make up IFEX-ALC are part of IFEX's global No Impunity campaign, which seeks to hold to account those who commit crimes that silence the voices of activists, journalists, bloggers, artists and others who exercise their right to free expression.

IFEX-ALC hopes that Peru's Supreme Court of Justice recognizes the evidence and rules according to international standards, and puts an end to three decades of impunity.

Artículo 19 (Mexico and Central America)
Artigo 19 (Brazil)
Asociación Mundial de Radios Comunitarias América Latina y el Caribe (AMARC ALC)
Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC)
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism
Centro de Archivos y Acceso a la Información Pública
Centro Nacional de Comunicación Social
Comité por la Libre Expresión - C-Libre
Derechos Digitales
Espacio Público
Foro de Periodismo Argentino
Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP
Fundación Karisma
Fundamedios - Andean Foundation for Media Observation and Study
Instituto de Prensa y Libertad de Expresión - IPLEX
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
Latin American Observatory of Regulation, Media and Convergence - OBSERVACOM
National Press Association
Observatorio Latinoamericano para la Libertad de Expresión - OLA
Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay
Trinidad and Tobago's Publishers and Broadcasters Association

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