Colombian journalist Amalfi Rosales flees after death threats

Bogotá, Colombia, September 8, 2014 — Colombian journalist Amalfi Rosales has fled her home in northern La Guajira state and is seeking government protection after gunmen fired at her house, and she received death threats, according to news reports. Rosales told the Committee to Protect Journalists the threats began after she reported on alleged links between a former state governor and criminal groups.

“It is disturbing that journalist Amalfi Rosales has been repeatedly threatened after reporting on alleged criminal activity by high-ranking officials,” said CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauría, from New York. “Authorities must fully investigate who is behind these threats and ensure that Rosales is safe and able to do her job.”

Rosales, a reporter for the privately owned El Heraldo in Barranquilla, and a correspondent for Bogotá’s independent news network Noticias Uno TV, told CPJ that gunshots were fired at her house, breaking windows and penetrating the front wall of the property in Barrancas, on September 3 at 1 a.m.

Rosales said she left Barrancas and fled to Bogotá, and is seeking protection from the Colombian government’s National Protection Unit, which provides bodyguards and security measures for threatened citizens. She told CPJ she did not know if or when she would return.

Rosales was first threatened in November 2013 after reporting on the legal problems of the then La Guajira governor Juan Francisco ‘Kiko’ Gómez, also a former mayor of Barrancas. In October 2013, Gómez was arrested on charges of murdering political rivals, and for his alleged links to criminal organizations. Gómez has denied the charges, and said they were fabricated by his enemies, according to news reports.

Rosales told CPJ that when she was first threatened, gunmen on motorcycles stopped in front of her house, insulted her, told her to “keep your mouth shut,” and accused her of being a government informant. She initially ignored the threat, but in April and May her husband received text messages threatening Rosales. The journalist filed a criminal complaint with the Attorney General’s office in June.

Another Colombian journalist and two political analysts, who had been investigating Gómez’s alleged links to paramilitary death squads, accused the governor in 2013 of being tied to threats against them. The journalist, Gonzalo Guillén, left Colombia temporarily for his safety, according to news reports. Gómez has denied having links to paramilitary death squads.

Gómez, who was removed from his post as governor and is in prison awaiting trial, has denied making threats against journalists, according to news reports.