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
Tel. +51 208 5555 (5202) – (5201)
Address: Av. Abancay Cdra 5 (Headquarters in Lima) LIMA – Peru
Judiciary of Peru
Judge Elvia Barrios Alvarado
President of the Judiciary
Tel. (01) 4101010 Annex 11000
Address Av. Paseo de la República S / N Palacio de Justicia, Cercado, Lima – Peru
Walter Gutierrez Camacho
Tel: 01-311 0300 – Annex 1202E
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/
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org