Peru: Writer Rafo León cleared of criminal defamation

Update #1 to Call to Action of 12 May 2016

15 September 2016 – PEN International is delighted to report that Rafael Enrique León Rodríguez (Rafo León) has been cleared of defaming a fellow journalist and will not serve a 12-month suspended sentence handed down in May nor pay the plaintiff damages. León is an author and columnist for the Lima-based weekly newsmagazine Caretas.

Lima’s High Court (Corte Superior de Justicia de Lima) has ruled that León did not defame former El Comercio general editor and columnist Martha Meier Miró Quesada in a satirical opinion piece published in Caretas in June 2014. Dated 29 August 2016, the appeal ruling was made public on 9 September. It revokes a 3 May decision whereby León was found guilty of ‘aggravated defamation’ and ordered to pay Meier 6,000 Soles (approx. USD$1,800) in damages and to complete a one-year period of “good behaviour” in order to avoid a criminal conviction.

León’s acquittal follows that of journalist Fernando Valencia Osorio on similar charges last month. Former editor of the Lima-based daily newspaper Diario 16, Valencia was found guilty on appeal of defaming former president Alan García and sentenced to a 20-month suspended prison sentence and to pay 100,000 sols (US$30,595) in damages in April 2016. However, on 9 August it was reported that his conviction had been overturned.

(For more details of both cases, see PEN’s Call to Action 12 May 2016.)

***No further action is required. Thank you to everyone who took action on this case.**