At its most fundamental level, the job of a journalist is to bear witness. In 1999, journalists in Sierra Leone witnessed rebels' atrocities against civilians in the streets of Freetown. In the Balkans, journalists watched ethnic Albanians fleeing the deadly menace of Serbian police and paramilitaries. In Indonesia, they recorded the violence of Indonesian-backed militias against supporters of political independence. Some who wrote about what they witnessed ended up dying because of the stories they told.
In a year that saw both an escalation of Colombia's armed conflict and a tentative beginning of peace negotiations, the press found itself in the crosshairs of nearly every party to the increasingly complicated civil war. Five journalists were killed in the line of duty, while scores of others were threatened, attacked, or kidnapped. Colombian journalists, many of whom had tolerated extremely dangerous working conditions for two decades, began leaving the country in unprecedented numbers.
New York, November 30, 1999 --- CPJ is deeply concerned about the November 28 murder of cameramen Alberto Sánchez Tovar and Luis Alberto Rincón Solano outside the town of El Playón, in the north-eastern department of Santander.
On the morning of November 28, the two cameramen left Bucaramanga, capital of Santander Department, to shoot a video of the mayoral elections in El Playón. Armed individuals shot and killed them on the road just outside of El Playón, where colleagues found their bodies later that day. Both men died from bullet wounds to the head.