The Associated Press has the story today on imprisoned former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori’s use of social media sites Facebook and Twitter, and the headache this is causing the government.
The problem is that Fujimori is not directly controlling either his Facebook or Twitter accounts himself. He has no access to the internet in his facility. Instead, he relies on third parties to post for him, and transmits messages to them via telephone. These facilitators have also recorded his voice, and posted short audio clips of his statements to YouTube.
Last month, Justice Minister Daniel Figallo has called on penal authorities to “regulate” Fujimori’s use of social media, implying that the former president was receiving special privileges not usually granted to most inmates.
But the head of the National Penal Institute (INPE), Jose Luis Perez Guadalupe, told Peru21 that Fujimori’s access to the telephone was in keeping with his rights as a prisoner, and current INPE regulations. As such, Perez Guadalupe recommended that the communication rights given to inmates in Peru be reassessed.
The AP reports that government lawyers are “hustling to come up with legislation that adapts, for the self-broadcasting Internet age, laws that let prison authorities restrict inmates’ speech.” This opens up the potential for serious infringement on individual rights of persons deprived of liberty, however. In “Principles and Best Practices on the Protection of Persons Deprived of Liberty in the Americas,” the OAS Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons Deprived of Liberty recommends guaranteeing inmates the right to free expression, with minimal constraints that are “strictly necessary” to guarantee security, the rights of others and public order. It’s difficult to see how restricting the former president’s telephone access fits falls under this, while it may be politically expedient at the moment.
In the meantime, the former president continues to use his online presence to blast the administration Ollanta Humala in a way that, as UNC Professor Greg Weeks points out, bears a similarity to Colombia’s Alvaro Uribe.
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