UPDATE (5 May 2016): On 3 May 2016, World Press Freedom Day, a court in Peru found Caretas journalist Rafael León Rodríguez (also known as Rafo Leon) guilty of defamation.
Rafael León Rodríguez was given a one year suspended sentence and ordered to pay $1,800 in damages to the plaintiff, former El Comercio editor Martha Meier. The suspended sentence is subject to Rodríguez’s completion of one year of ‘good behaviour,’ requiring him to report regularly to the authorities and to request permission before leaving the country.
‘The criminal conviction of journalist and author Rafael León Rodríguez underscores the dangerous way in which criminal defamation laws can be used to silence writers and journalists. Restoration of reputation should be dealt with through the civil courts, leaving journalists free from the fear of going to jail for their work. Our world is diminished when writers have to choose between self-censorship and their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression. PEN International calls on Peruvian authorities to overturn Rafael León Rodríguez’s conviction immediately.’ – Jennifer Clement, PEN International president.
On 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, rather than celebrating, Peruvian journalist and author Rafael León Rodríguez (known as Rafo León) will be heading to court, in all probability to be criminally convicted of defaming another journalist in an opinion piece. If so, León could face up to three years in prison and be ordered to pay damages of up to 5m sols (US$1.53 m).
PEN believes that convicting León of criminal defamation for an opinion piece on a matter of public interest would be a violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion protected under national and international law. We are urging the Peruvian authorities to absolve him and to remove defamation from the criminal code.
For further background information, please visit the PEN International website.
English PEN is also campaigning for an end criminal defamation in Europe. Read Director Jo Glanville’s Newsweek article (26 April 2016) on the prosecution of the German comedian Jan Böhmermann, and the wider problem of criminal defamation laws across Europe.
- Share details of Rafo León’s case on Facebook, Twitter and other social media
- Send messages of solidarity to Rafo León via Tamsin Mitchell, PEN International on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send letters of appeal to the Peruvian authorities:
– Urging the Peruvian judiciary not to convict journalist and author Rafo León of criminal defamation for an opinion piece on a matter of public interest, which PEN believes would be a violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion protected under national and international law;
– Calling on them to review the convictions and sentences of all other writers and journalists convicted of criminal defamation with a view to overturning them;
– Reminding the Peruvian Congress of its pledge to remove defamation from the criminal code and to make it a civil offence and urging them to fulfil this pledge as a matter of urgency.
|Víctor Ticona Postigo
President of the Judiciary (Presidente del Poder Judicial)
Fax: +51 1 4283690
Telephone: +51 1 428 3690
|Ana María Aranda Rodríguez
Head of the Judicial Control Office of the Judiciary
(Jefa de la Oficina de Control de la Magistratura del Poder Judicial)
Email: email@example.com Telephone: +51 1 410 1010
|Luis Carlos Antonio Iberico Nuñez
President of the Peruvian Congress
(Presidente del Congreso de la República)
Telephone: +51 1 311 7777
It is recommended that you send a copy of your appeals to the Peruvian Ombudsman (Defensor del Pueblo) Eduardo Vega Luna at firstname.lastname@example.org and via your nearest diplomatic representative for Peru.