Author Archives: Lia Mills

“Under Fire: Journalists in South America”

26th March 2022 @6:00 pm, as part of the Imagine Belfast festival, Irish PEN hosts Paola Ugaz, Dan Collyns, Patricia Devlin and Kathryn Johnston in conversation with Catherine Dunne and Maria MacManus.

This event organised by Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann will profile two journalists under threat in Peru. Following an interview with Paola Ugaz and Dan Collyns, there will be a discussion with Northern Ireland journalists Patricia Devlin and

Paola Ugaz, recipient of a Courage in Journalism Award 2021, (International Women’s Media Foundation), is an investigative journalist who continues to display extraordinary courage in exposing the abuse and corruption within the powerful religious organisation, Sodalitium. Paola Ugaz is the winner of Women’s Media Foundation Writers of Courage Award:

Dan Collyns, a multimedia journalist and filmmaker, covers the Andean region for The Guardian newspaper, CGTN America television and the BBC. A recent project is the film The Adventures Of Wonder Woman, a documentary investigation into illegal gold mining in Peru’s Amazon, made with colleagues for The Thomson Reuters Foundation.

View Dan Collyns’ movie here.

Kathryn Johnston: Director and DeputyEditor http://viewdigital.org/

Patricia Devlin:  https://patriciadevlin.com/

SUPPORT FOR UKRAINE

PEN Ukraine together with PEN Belarus, Polish PEN Club and Open Culture Foundation is organizing a public fundraiser to support the creative community of Ukraine.

The funds will go to help Ukrainian writers, journalists, scholars, translators, and artists who have found themselves under threat as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine.

The funds will be used to alleviate the urgent needs of Ukrainian creatives, whose lives are now in direct danger:

– urgent evacuation and resettlement in the cities of Western Ukraine,

– urgent evacuation and resettlement in safe countries.

Culture is one of the chief bastions of Ukrainian freedom and we must ensure that members of the Ukrainian cultural community can continue to speak out loudly and without hindrance.

Support now: https://penbelarus.org/en/2022…

Irish PEN featured writer Paola Ugaz (Peru) at risk (20/01/22)

Paola Ugaz is a Peruvian investigative journalist, editor and writer. She is facing a campaign of harassment, threats, and defamation lawsuits, including allegations of crimes due to her investigations into corruption, as well as physical, psychological and sexual abuse within the Peruvian religious organization Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, which she has conducted since 2010.

In February 2021, Ugaz was served a lawsuit that could land her in prison. Ugaz’s case is part of a sophisticated system in Peru where powerful groups use the courts as whips to silence journalists by fabricating criminal allegations against them.

PEN International considers that the charges, lawsuits, threats and ongoing harassment against Ugaz are violating her right to freedom of expression, as well as her civil and political rights. PEN calls on the Peruvian authorities to dismiss the lawsuits against her and to cease immediately the harassment Ugaz faces for her work as a journalist, editor and writer.

Please, send appeals to the Peruvian authorities:

  • Expressing deep concern about Ugaz’s charges, lawsuits, threats and ongoing harassment, which are in relation to her work.
  • Calling for a halt to the judicial proceedings against Ugaz, considering that the complaints and prosecution are intended to stop her investigations and prevent the publication of her books, as well as to impose a chilling effect on other writers and journalists, and prevent them from exercising their right to freedom of expression.
  • Calling upon the Peruvian authorities to repeal criminal defamation legislation, which is still in force in Peru. Such legislation impedes the exercise of citizens’ rights to information and to hold their governments to account. It also limits the exercise of the right to freedom of expression, and therefore erodes the work of writers, journalists and editors.

Send appeals to:

President of the Republic of Peru

Sr. Pedro Castillo

Twitter: @MerinoDeLama @presidenciaperu

Address: Jr. de la Unión s / n 1st block

Cercado de Lima, Lima – Peru

Public Ministry Prosecutor’s Office of the Nation

Mrs. Zoraida Ávalos Rivera

Attorney of the Nation

Email zavalos@mpfn.gob.pe

Tel. +51 208 5555 (5202) – (5201)

Twitter @FiscaliaPeru

Address: Av. Abancay Cdra 5 (Headquarters in Lima) LIMA – Peru

Judiciary of Peru

Judge Elvia Barrios Alvarado

President of the Judiciary

Email: ebarrios@pj.gob.pe

Tel. (01) 4101010 Annex 11000

T. @Poder_Judicial_

Address Av. Paseo de la República S / N Palacio de Justicia, Cercado, Lima – Peru

Ombudsman

Walter Gutierrez Camacho

Ombudsman

Tel: 01-311 0300 – Annex 1202E

Email: defensor@defensoria.gob.pe

Address: Jirón Ucayali 394 – 398 Lima 1

Send copies to the Embassy of Peru in your own country. Embassy addresses may be found here: https://www.embassy-worldwide.com/country/peru/

Publicity:

We encourage PEN members to:

  • Publish articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press highlighting the case of Ugaz and the importance of freedom of expression in Peru;
  • Share information about Ugaz and her activities and work on social media, using the hashtag #PaolaUgaz

Please find some useful materials below, in English and Spanish:

IWMF Courage 2021

A espaldas del Vaticano, el Sodalicio saca su dinero de Perú para no reparar a los sobrevivientes

El Vaticano espera las explicaciones del Sodalicio con el fin de garantizar las reparaciones

Fundador del Sodalicio, Luis Figari, vende su lujosa residencia en Lima para no reparar a sus víctimas

Please inform PEN International of any action you take or any response you get.

Background

In 2015, Pedro Salinas and Paola Ugaz published the book Mitad monjes, mitad soldados (Half Monks, Half Soldiers) (Planeta, 2015), which uncovered the biggest scandal within a Catholic organization in Peru. Ugaz began to receive complaints and lawsuits following the announcement she was publishing a new book (yet to be published) about the group’s financial management.

Ugaz faces at least five legal proceedings for the publication of her book and investigative journalism. In October 2020, she received a death threat on her Instagram account and a new hearing was held, in which the judge decided to open a judicial process against her. The trial stems from a complaint filed by Luciano Revoredo Rojas, a former congressional candidate and director of the conservative Catholic news and commentary website La Abeja, who accused Ugaz of aggravated defamation.

(See Action on Day of the Imprisoner Writer Campaign 2020 – Paola Ugaz)

Furthermore, in November 2020, Carlos Alberto Gomez de la Torre Pretell, a ‘Sodalicio’ employee, sued Ugaz for defamation following her participation in a 40-second statement, broadcast by Al Jazeera in a documentary titled “The Sodalitium Scandal.”

For a long time, Ugaz has been the target of a smear and disinformation campaign in relation to her work as a journalist where, without any evidence, she is linked to alleged criminal networks, money laundering, uranium and plutonium trading, among others. She is also the target of harassment, including the publication of private data about her children, who are minors, and about her colleague Pedro Salinas, co-author of the book.

Ugaz is currently facing defamation suits by Revoredo Rojas and Gómez de la Torre, and is being investigated by the Prosecutor’s Office as the head of a money laundering network.

Paola Ugaz could face preventive detention, imprisonment or a ban on leaving her country.

For more information, please contact Alicia Quiñones, Americas Programme Coordinator, at PEN International, email: alicia.quinones@pen-international.org

PEN Norway Event concerning the Iranian writer Narges Mohammadi

Narges Mohammadi is an Iranian writer, journalist, human rights defender, and Honorary Member of Danish, Belgian, Norwegian, and Swedish PEN. She is the former Vice-President and spokesperson of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which advocates for human rights reform and represents political prisoners and prisoners of conscience in legal proceedings.  You can find more details about her case here.

In November 2021, Mohammadi was arrested yet again and is now facing 80 lashes. You can find more information about her current situation in PEN International’s latest statement on her case here

Our colleagues at PEN Norway are organising an online event on January 25 about Mohammadi, her current situation, and the treatment of political prisoners and activists in Iran, followed by screening her documentary film “White Torture.”

Please see PEN Norway’s program 25 January: https://www.facebook.com/events/358228265638858?ref=newsfeed

PROGRAMME

In the conversation:


– Taghi Rahmani, Narges Mohammadi’s husband, journalist, writer and activist
– Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize winner (2003), political activist, lawyer and a former judge
– Asieh Amini, journalist, poet and Board member of PEN Norway
– Benyamin Farnam, filmmaker and Communications Worker at PEN Norway

Moderator: Moloud Hajizadeh, journalist

The event will be in English and will be streamed on PEN Norway’s Facebook page.

Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme

Led by English PEN, we have joined over 30 arts, media, and human rights organisations in calling on the UK govt to open the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme, which was announced over four months ago. Read our letter to the Home Secretary here: https://www.englishpen.org/posts/news/afghanistan-cultural-organisations-urge-uk-government-to-open-acrs/

PEN Friends letter-writing event

Here is a quote from Enoh Meyomesse (Cameroon) about the effect of receiving letters from PEN members while he was in prison:

“Your letters set me free. Your postcards broke my chains.”

On 15th November, to mark the Day of the Imprisoned Writer (and the first anniversary of the re-launch of Irish PEN/PEN na hÉireann), sixteen members joined us via Zoom to talk about selected writers and write letters and cards of support. Our featured writers were: Nedim Turfent (Turkey), Ilhan Sami Çomak (Turkey), Dawit Isaak (Eritrea), Amanuel Asrat (Eritea), Nasrin Sotoudeh (Iran), Pham Doan Trang (Vietnam) and Paola Ugaz (Peru).

This was a wonderfully friendly, engaged session where we thought about and talked about PEN’s principles of supporting writers who have been imprisoned because of their work, their ideas, their courage and their belief in freedom of expression.

With thanks to English PEN, PEN Norway and the Free the Poet Campaign and PEN International for their support.