Constitutional Court prohibits Peruvian media from using secretly recorded phone calls

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  • December 9, 2010

By Ingrid Bachmann

In a ruling referring to the so-called “petro-audio”, the Constitutional Court of Peru said newspapers, radios and television stations cannot make public recordings of phone calls that were illegally obtained, reported El Comercio.

In 2008, the diffusion in the press of phone call recordings that revealed corruption in the financial dealings of oil companies in Peru prompted the fall of officials in the cabinet of President Alan García. The court ruling references one of the defendants in the scandal, Alberto Químper.

The decision warns that journalists cannot disseminate the recorded calls, unless they have permission from the recorded speakers or a judicial order. Journalists who violate the ruling could face legal charges, said Perú21.

The ruling has been criticized by legal experts and journalistic organizations. The Peruvian Press Council has characterized the ruling as a blow against freedom of expression and the fight against corruption, added La República. In an opinion column in Perú21, Fritz Du Bois called the ruling “absurd” and “nonsense” that is an attempt to cut “the investigative powers of the press” and thus promote impunity.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.