Investigative Journalists Take on Peruvian Corruption
Investigative journalism has been on the decline in Latin America in recent years, yet the need for it remains high. While traditional newspapers in Peru publish fewer and fewer corruption stories, state malfeasance continues to climb. Started in October 2009 with only two reporters and now a team of seven, IDL-Reporteros uses investigative journalism to hold the government accountable.
In February 2010, IDL-Reporteros carried out an investigation of 31 troop carriers acquired by Peru’s Ministry of the Interior at a hyper-inflated price. The coverage of the controversial purchase garnered the interest of traditional national media, exposing the various details and allegations of corruption and bribery discovered by IDL-Reporteros. As a result, Peruvian President Alan García ordered the cancellation of the transaction.
In a similar corruption case, IDL-Reporteros investigated the process to formalize property ownership carried out by the governmental Agency for the Formalization of Informal Property (Organismo de Formalización de la Propiedad Informal, COFOPRI). In April 2010, IDL-Reporteros published an article about a property worth upwards of $12 million dollars that was sold to a real estate trafficker for a mere $1,780. Follow-up stories revealing the results of the ongoing investigation pressured the president of COFOPRI to resign. In addition, the institution was dismantled, a majority of the high-ranking COFOPRI officials were fired, several were arrested and convicted of corruption, and the transaction was cancelled.
The first investigative journalism team created in a Peruvian nongovernmental organization, IDL-Reporteros is housed at the Legal Defense Institute (Instituto de Defensa Legal, IDL), a human rights grantee of the Open Society Latin America Program. With additional support from the Open Society Foundations, IDL-Reporteros demonstrates the impact that investigative journalism can have in advancing transparency and accountability in the absence of strong state institutions.