IPYS condemns change in law that classifies national security information in Peru

The Institute for Press and Society, IPYS, described a recent change in the legislative decree that regulates the National Defense System as a "serious attack" on the right to access information, freedom of expression and transparency.

The government of Peru enacted on Dec. 7 an article that indefinitely classifies all information related to national security and defense as a state secret, and establishes a punishment of up to 15 years in prison for anyone who breaks it.

For IPYS, the change in the law is an attack on the Transparency and Information Access Law, as well as on several other international treaties. IPYS' attorney, Roberto Pereira, said that "this is a mistake that throws us back to the Fujimori era, in which everything was classified and nothing could be known," reported the daily La República. The organization called the Peruvian government to amend the change.

Some of the country's legislators have called the decree unconstitutional. "You can't enact laws against journalism," told congressman Luis Iberico to Perú 21. In light of the controversy, the Peruvian Congress' Constitutional Committee said it will review the 12 decrees enacted on the matter to determine if any of them are in fact inconstitutional, Perú 21 reported.

On Dec. 12, newspaper La República called the change in law a serious ban, not only because of the impact on the right to access public information, but also because of its relevance in the fight against corruption. In an editorial, the newspaper argued that reports written in the last 20 years denouncing crooked military purchases have helped prevent the squandering of government resources.

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.

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