Global Freedom of Expression

CGFoE Files Amicus Curiae Brief in a Case on Investigative Journalism and the Protection of Sources in Peru

Key Details

  • Region
    Latin-America and Caribbean
  • Themes
    Press Freedom

Columbia GFoE filed an amicus curiae brief to uphold international standards on freedom of expression and protect investigative journalism in Peru in a case involving journalist and  IDL Reporteros director, Gustavo Gorriti.

New York, June 18, 2024 – In May 2024, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression (CGFoE) filed an amicus curiae brief before the First Specialized Constitutional Court of Lima, Peru, in a case involving journalist Gustavo Gorriti, who is being investigated for allegedly bribing prosecutors. The brief states that, according to the highest international standards, the investigation against Gorriti violates his freedom of expression and inhibits the right of Peruvian citizens to access information of substantial public interest. It also stresses that the alleged facts that constitute the journalist’s crime are nothing more than a legitimate exercise of his freedom of expression.

Gorriti is a renowned investigative journalist and director of IDL Reporteros, who has exposed corruption at the highest levels of the Peruvian government, with an impact throughout Latin America. He has been instrumental in holding officials accountable and promoting transparency. However, Gorriti is now facing a preliminary investigation for the crime of active bribery for allegedly providing media support in favor of prosecutors working on the Lava Jato case—one of the most high-profile corruption cases in the region— which is often the subject of his journalist reporting.

The brief submitted by CGFoE explains that the case is part of a serious regional resurgence of the use of criminal proceedings to intimidate and silence journalists, researchers, and other indispensable voices in a democratic society. Likewise, it states that the investigations published by the journalist, which caused the opening of the criminal investigation, not only cannot be the cause of a criminal proceeding but, according to all international jurisprudence on the matter, are expressions that deserve special protection by the State because they report on matters of high public relevance.

In the case in question, the process against Gorriti includes orders to lift the confidentiality of his telephone communications during the last five years. In this regard, based on international and comparative standards, the brief states that this measure, if implemented, would violate the protection of sources guarantee and would discourage other sources from bringing to light information of public interest.  

The brief also highlights that the opening of an investigation in light of the exercise of a fundamental human right, and the disproportionate restriction on sources’ confidentiality, not only constitutes a violation of Mr. Gorriti’s freedom of expression but also significantly inhibits society’s collective right to access information of public interest. In this case, depriving Peruvian society of investigations on corruption also entails irreparable harm to democracy. Citizens have the right to be informed on matters of public interest. This is but an essential precondition for the consolidation of modern democracies in which the State—whose authority and power emanate from its citizens—is obliged to be accountable.

CGFoE’s brief was submitted with the sole purpose of assisting the Court’s work in protecting the freedoms of the press, opinion, and expression in this important case on the use of criminal law against investigative journalism and the protection of journalistic sources. It is authored by our associate director, Hawley Johnson; our associate expert and former rapporteur of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Catalina Botero Marino; our legal and program consultant, Anderson Javiel Dirocie De León; and our legal researcher, Juan Manuel Ospina Sánchez.

You can access the full document in its original Spanish version here and you can read a courtesy non-authoritative English translation here.

Authors

Hawley Johnson

Associate Director, Global Freedom of Expression, Columbia University

Catalina Botero Marino

Associate Expert of CGFoE
Former Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Anderson Javiel Dirocie De León

Legal and Program Consultant

Juan Manuel Ospina

Editor
Legal Researcher