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Colombia

2012


Syrian violence contributed to a sharp rise in the number of journalists killed for their work in 2012, as did a series of murders in Somalia. The dead include a record proportion of journalists who worked online. A CPJ special report

A journalist dodges gunfire in the Syrian city of Aleppo. (AFP/Tauseef Mustafa)
(AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.

Bogotá, November 30, 2012--Top Colombian police officials must conduct an intensive investigation into the actions of local police during their arrest of freelance journalist Guillermo Quiroz Delgado, who died Tuesday night, seven days after he was hospitalized for injuries suffered while in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The Colombian Supreme Court announced on August 27, 2012, that it would drop a defamation complaint against prominent journalist Cecilia Orozco Tascón, according to news reports. Five days earlier, the court released a statement saying it would file charges against Orozco, who writes a widely read column in the Bogotá daily El Espectador. The court also criticized a column by another journalist, María Jimena Duzán, which was published in the weekly Semana magazine.

Bogotá, August 27, 2012--Colombia's Supreme Court must immediately drop an unprecedented criminal defamation complaint against a prominent local columnist who questioned recent actions by the court, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Colombian journalist Élida Parra Alonso, who was kidnapped on July 24, 2012, by a local guerrilla group in the northeastern state of Arauca, was released on August 13, 2012, according to news reports. Parra hosts a program for Sarare Estéreo radio station and does community outreach work for Oleoducto Bicentenario, a company constructing an oil pipeline that it says will be the largest in the country, news reports said.

New York, July 26, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the kidnapping of a Colombian journalist and calls on authorities to secure her safe return. Élida Parra Alonso, who covers children's rights and hosts a program for Sarare Estéreo radio station, was abducted from her home on Tuesday, according to news reports.  

Álvaro Uribe speaks at a 2011 congressional hearing about his alleged responsibility in the wiretapping of political opponents and journalists. (AP/William Fernando Martinez)

More than a year after he left office, Álvaro Uribe Vélez confessed that "it was not in him" to live as a former president. And in fact, having dominated Colombian politics for eight years, it has been impossible for Uribe to fade from the public eye since leaving office in August 2010. Instead of retiring to his ranch in Antioquia, he has lived in a heavily protected compound in the capital, Bogotá, with his wife and two sons. He spends his time traveling abroad for speaking engagements, has been a scholar at Georgetown University, and more recently announced the creation of a new political platform to oppose current President Juan Manuel Santos.  

New York, May 30, 2012-The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes today's release of French journalist Roméo Langlois who was held hostage for more than a month by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Colombian radio host and former Minister Fernando Londoño was the apparent target of a bomb in Bogotá Tuesday. (Reuters/Fredy Builes)

New York, May 16, 2012-- The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns Tuesday's attack on Fernando Londoño, a radio talk show host and former high-ranking government official. Londoño was injured in a bombing in Bogotá that killed his driver and bodyguard.

New York, May 1, 2012--The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) must immediately and unconditionally release French journalist Roméo Langlois, who was captured Saturday during a confrontation with Colombian armed forces, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. An alleged FARC member has reportedly told Colombian journalists that the leftist rebel group is holding Langlois as a prisoner of war.

French journalist Roméo Langlois has been missing in Colombia since Saturday. (Reuters/France 24 Television)

New York, April 30, 2012--A French journalist who was injured during combat between Colombian Army troops and guerrillas has gone missing and may have been kidnapped by the rebels, according to Colombian and French officials.

New York, April 23, 2012--Three provincial Colombian radio journalists have been forced to flee their homes in the past few months after receiving death threats from illegal armed groups. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on authorities to ensure their safety.

The issue of impunity affects all Colombian citizens' access to real justice; it is not only a problem for crimes against journalists. Several human rights bodies and non-governmental organizations agree that Colombia dwells in a striking situation of impunity, especially concerning crimes committed during the ongoing armed conflict.


CPJ's María Salazar-Ferro names the 12 countries where journalists are murdered regularly and governments fail to solve the crimes. Where are leaders failing to uphold the law? Where are conditions getting better? And where is free expression in danger? (4:46)

Read CPJ's 2012 Impunity Index. And visit our Global Campaign Against Impunity and see how you can help.

CPJ’s 2012 Impunity Index spotlights countries
where journalists are slain and killers go free

New York, March 16, 2012--A Colombian radio journalist was shot dead by an unidentified gunman on Thursday, according to news reports

This screenshot from Sánchez's video is said to show police chasing protesters from the site of a proposed dam. (YouTube)

New York, February 29, 2012--Colombian freelance journalist and activist Bladimir Sánchez Espitia fled his home state today for the capital city after receiving death threats related to a video he posted on YouTube, according to the Bogotá-based Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP). News reports said the video showed anti-riot police forcibly removing protesters from the construction site of a controversial hydroelectric dam in central Huila department.

While lethal anti-press violence has slowed considerably in recent years, the press freedom landscape remains troubled. Journalists continue to be attacked and threatened with such frequency that some are compelled to flee to safer locations within Colombia or into exile. A journalist in Arboletes was murdered in June, although the motive was unclear. In this violent context, press groups feared the potential consequences of statements made by former President Álvaro Uribe, who described veteran reporters Juan Forero and Claudia Julieta Duque as “terrorist sympathizers” after they wrote critical stories about the Uribe administration in The Washington Post. The national intelligence agency’s illegal espionage against journalists and other critics, a legacy of the Uribe administration, continued to be the subject of investigation. But progress was slow, with cases pending against more than 20 defendants in late year. In a blow to press freedom, the Supreme Court in May upheld defamation provisions in the penal code.

For journalists, cyber-security training slow to take hold

For centuries, journalists have been willing to go to prison to protect their sources. Back in 1848, New York Herald correspondent John Nugent spent a month in jail for refusing to tell a U.S. Senate committee his source for a leak exposing the secret approval of a treaty with Mexico. In a digital age, however, journalists need more than steadfast conviction to keep themselves and their sources safe. Government intelligence agencies, terrorist groups, and criminal syndicates are using electronic surveillance to learn what journalists are doing and who their sources are.  It seems many journalists are not keeping pace.

People remain stranded at the North Bus Terminal in Medellin, Antioquia department, on January 5, 2012 during an armed strike imposed by the criminal gang Los Urabeños. (Raul Arboleda/AFP)

At most newspapers, reporting for the society page isn't especially dangerous. But in the northern Colombian department of Córdoba, which is under siege from drug-trafficking gangs, even covering birthday parties can be risky.

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Killed in Colombia

45 journalists killed since 1992

41 journalists murdered

36 murdered with impunity

Attacks on the Press 2012

92 Threats made against journalists, the highest rate in at least five years.

Country data, analysis »

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