The inability to solve journalist murders in Arauca feeds an atmosphere of hostility and intimidation for the media there. By John Otis
Journalists reporting on sensitive issues like the country’s decades-long armed conflict, crime, and corruption faced renewed violence and intimidation. A journalist at Colombia’s leading newsmagazine narrowly survived an assassination attempt, while reporters throughout the country were repeatedly threatened, and in some cases forced to flee their homes and the country. One journalist and one media support worker were murdered in direct retaliation for their work. The violence caused reporters outside the major urban centers to self-censor for fear of their lives. Meanwhile, journalists covering the months-long anti-government demonstrations by peasant farmers in northern Catatumbo were violently targeted by all sides. Justice continued to progress haltingly in the five-year investigation into an illegal government espionage program that targeted critical journalists, among others, as the Supreme Court dropped charges against the former head of the National Intelligence Agency and another court released an official of the agency who had been previously convicted, according to news reports. Seven former secret police detectives were sentenced to preventive detention on charges of “psychologically torturing” and anonymously threatening journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, one of the espionage victims, for her coverage of the 1999 murder of a journalist. In a positive development, a criminal defamation conviction against editor Luis Agustín González was overturned by the Supreme Court. As President Juan Manuel Santos’ government continued peace negotiations with the leftist guerrilla organization the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a government-created commission reported that Colombia’s more than 50-year conflict has killed at least 220,000 people, the vast majority of them noncombatants.
Bogotá, January 14, 2014--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to ensure the safety of three radio journalists in the southern state of Guaviare who have received death threats in response to their coverage of an upcoming recall vote that could remove the local governor from office.
Bogotá, October 1, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Saturday's murder of a Colombian newspaper vendor who had collaborated with journalists on exposing misbehavior by guards at a local prison, and calls on authorities to investigate.
Bogotá, September 16, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to launch a full investigation into the murder of a radio host on Wednesday. Édison Alberto Molina, a lawyer and politician who hosted a radio program that he used to denounce government corruption, was shot and killed in the town of Puerto Berrío, according to news reports.
Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.
Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.
A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.
Reporting from Catatumbo, a region in northern Colombia dominated by guerrillas and drug traffickers, has always been challenging. But working conditions for journalists have seriously deteriorated amid nearly two months of anti-government protests pitting thousands of angry peasant farmers against soldiers and riot police.
A Colombian TV news director, who oversaw hard-hitting political coverage in central Antioquia department, resigned on June 28 after his editorial meeting was secretly recorded and used by politicians to push for his ouster.
Next to the mayor's office in the northern Colombian town of Caucasia sits a monument to government dysfunction: a half-built public library with broken windows, a water-stained floor, and rusting reinforcement rods protruding from concrete pillars.
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