Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Peru: Bomb detonates outside journalist's home in Peru


The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Tuesday's (22 April 2014) attack on the home of Peruvian journalist Yofré López Sifuentes and calls on authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and hold the perpetrators to account. Lopez was unhurt after a bomb exploded, but his parents were injured, according to news reports.

"Journalists covering corruption are all too frequently attacked in Peru," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas, from New York. "Authorities must thoroughly investigate all motives in this attack, including possible political elements, and ensure that journalists and their families do not have to fear violent attacks in reprisal for reporting on sensitive issues."

López is the founder and editor of the biweekly newspaper and website Barranca and host of the "Toque de Queda" news program on Radio Santana in Barranca, a Pacific port city north of Lima, the capital. In his newspaper and on his website and the radio, López has often denounced Agroindustrial Paramonga, a Barranca-based sugar company, for alleged contamination, tax evasion, and other violations. In 2012, he produced a documentary about the alleged environmental damage and health effects of the sugar company's operations.

Agroindustrial Paramonga, which denied any wrongdoing, sued the journalist for defamation. A Barranca court cleared López of the charges in September 2012. Last year, a bomb partially destroyed the home of Alfredo Palacios, a Barranca politician who had also denounced industrial contamination by local sugar companies, according to news reports.

López has also been extremely critical of Barranca mayor Romel Ullilén and recently denounced his administration for alleged misuse of public funds in municipal purchases, according to news reports.

Video from a security camera showed a masked individual leaving the explosive device at the entrance to López's home at around 2 a.m. The bomb exploded minutes later, partially destroying the journalist's home, as well as 10 nearby houses. López told CPJ his father would not be able to walk for about a month due to leg injuries and that his mother was slightly wounded and received a few cuts.

"I thought people had broken into the house to kill us," López told reporters in Barranca. "I believe this attack is due to the journalistic work we are doing. It appears that they want to silence us."

Journalists and news outlets reporting on corruption and organized crime in Peru are frequently targeted with violence, according to CPJ research. In December, unidentified assailants threw an explosive device at the house of Peruvian journalist Edvan Ríos Chanca. No one was hurt in the attack.