CPJ concerned by threats against journalists

New York, May 18, 2005—The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned by a series of chilling death threats made this week against three well-known Colombian journalists in the capital, Bogotá.

Daniel Coronell, news director of “Noticias Uno” (News One) on the television station Canal Uno; Carlos Lozano, news director with the weekly Voz (Voice); and Hollman Morris, producer of the weekly news television show “Contravía” (Opposite Way) on Canal Uno, all received burial wreaths on Monday, the journalists told CPJ.

On Monday morning, Canal Uno received two flower wreaths, one addressed to Coronell. The journalist told CPJ he has recently received several anonymous death threats on the telephone. Last Saturday, an anonymous caller threatened to kill his wife and daughter.

On Monday afternoon, a messenger delivered a wreath to Lozano at the office of Voz. The messenger said the flowers came from a florist in northern Bogotá, and were sent by the Montoya family for Lozano’s burial. Lozano told CPJ he has been receiving anonymous death threats on the phone since the beginning of this year.

Also that afternoon, Morris received a wreath at his home. The flowers were accompanied by a card expressing “sincere condolences” and signed by the Henao family. Morris told CPJ he has also received death threats over the phone.

Colombian President Álvaro Uribe issued a press release yesterday condemning the threats and calling on security forces to protect the journalists against possible attacks. “Threats against journalists and their impunity are shameful for our democracy,” said Uribe. He said he would reinforce the journalists’ safety and conduct an investigation to prosecute those responsible.

Coronell, Lozano and Morris are recognized for their independent and investigative reporting on political corruption, drug trafficking and Colombia’s ongoing civil war Lozano and Coronell are already under police protection, but Morris told CPJ he is not.

“We’re encouraged that the Colombian government has taken initial steps to protect our colleagues, but we remain very concerned about their safety,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on Colombian authorities to ensure that those responsible are punished with the full extent of the law.”