Freedom of Expression

Press Release R177/16

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalist in Peru and urges the State to Swiftly and Opportunely Investigate and Punish those Responsible

November 28, 2016

Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Hernán Choquepata Ordóñez in Peru on November 20 and urges the Peruvian authorities to act swiftly and opportunely to investigate, identify and punish those responsible, both the perpetrators and masterminds.

Hernán Choquepata Ordóñez was attacked by unknown assailants when entering the booth where he broadcasted a radio program. He was first struck and then shot before dying whilst being taken to a hospital in the city of Arequipa. The assailants also destroyed the radio station’s equipment.

According to available information, Choquepata Ordóñez –known to listeners as "Randy Ordóñez"- worked at radio station La Ribereña, which broadcasts from the city of Camaná in the department of Arequipa. There he directed the program "Hablan los pueblos", which enabled people to voice complaints and express criticisms of governmental authorities.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its deepest concern over this attack against the life of a journalist and because his death may be linked to the practice of his profession. It therefore urges the authorities not to rule out any line of investigation, including those associated with the exercise of freedom of expression, as well as to make use of all of its available instruments to identify, prosecute and punish the responsible perpetrators and masterminds. It also views the adoption of fair means for reparation of the victims’ family as fundamental.

It also believes that strengthening inter-institutional cooperation mechanisms between the authorities at different levels of the government is essential in order to ensure adequate adoption and implementation of the necessary measures to guarantee the practice of journalism.

Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that: "The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

As repeatedly expressed by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, acts of violence and intimidation against journalists, particularly murders and attacks on physical integrity, limit freedom of expression and have an intimidating effect on the flow of information. When such crimes remain in impunity, this can foster repetition of similar acts of violence and lead to the silencing and self-censorship of journalists.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the IACHR to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.