New York, August 25, 2017--Colombian authorities should undertake a swift and credible investigation into an attack yesterday against crime reporter Mauricio Cardoso in the southwestern state of Caquetá, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At about 11:30 p.m. last night, three unidentified individuals armed with a knife attacked Cardoso, who reports on crime and justice for the Extra Caquetá newspaper in the city of Florencia, according to reports.
Caquetá has historically been at the center of the long-running armed conflict between Marxist guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the Colombian government, who signed a peace agreement in September 2016.
"The peace deal between the government and FARC guerrillas should mean that journalists in Colombia can work freely and without fear of violence," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "That is apparently not the case for Mauricio Cardoso. The authorities must investigate this brutal attack on him and bring the all those responsible to justice."
Three men on two motorcycles stopped Cardoso in the Ciudadela Siglo XXI residential neighborhood of Florencia, about 384 kilometers (240 miles) southwest of the capital of Bogotá, as he was driving home from classes at the Universidad de la Amazonia, according to news reports.
Cardoso's brother, Andres Cardoso, a journalist with TV station Caracol Noticias, told local news outlet TuCaqueta.com that the men hit his brother in the head with a heavy object, knocking him off of his motorcycle. They continued hitting Cardoso and attacked him with a knife, wounding him in the chest, abdomen, legs, and hands, according to a statement by the Caqueta Media Workers' Association. The attackers also insulted Cardoso and told him they were going to kill him for being a "snitch," according to the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP).
When passersby noticed the attack and intervened, the men fled, without taking Cardoso's motorcycle or any of his possessions, according to the reports.
Jenifer Osorio, the editor of Extra Caquetá, told Caracol Radio that Cardoso was taken to the emergency room at a nearby medical center, where he was treated for his injuries and released.
Neither the news outlet nor individual journalists there had reported receiving any previous threats, according to FLIP. CPJ's calls and online messages to Extra Caquetá were not immediately answered.
Col. Javier Navarro Ortiz, the police commander in Caquetá, visited Cardoso in the hospital and said police were pursuing multiple lines of investigation, including that the attack may have been related to Cardoso's work, according to news reports. The Caquetá police did not return CPJ's calls requesting comment.
On February 14, 2015, radio journalist Luis Antonio Peralta Cuéllar was shot and killed at his home in the town of Doncello, in southern Caquetá. No one has been convicted in the case.
Since 1992, at least 47 journalists have been killed in Colombia in relation to their work, many as the result of the conflict between the state and armed guerilla groups. While security for journalists in Colombia has improved in recent years, threats and violence against journalists continue, often with impunity, according to CPJ research.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The twelfth paragraph of this alert have been corrected to reflect the spelling of Luis Antonio Peralta Cuéllar's name.]