Colombian police officers are seen in Soacha, near Bogota, on March 31, 2020. CPJ recently joined a letter calling on the Colombian government to strengthen protections for journalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)
Colombian police officers are seen in Soacha, near Bogota, on March 31, 2020. CPJ recently joined a letter calling on the Colombian government to strengthen protections for journalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP/Raul Arboleda)

CPJ joins letter calling on Colombia to strengthen protections for journalists

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The Committee to Protect Journalists on May 4 joined more than 100 civil society organizations in an open letter calling on Colombia’s National Protection Unit to adopt measures to ensure the safety of journalists and other human rights defenders under increased threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Protection Unit, founded in 2011, guards hundreds of people under threat, including union leaders, human rights activists, politicians, and journalists, according to CPJ research. Earlier this month, CPJ expressed concern about reports that the unit had decided in March to suspend meetings of its Risk Assessment and Protection Measures Recommendation Committee, which conducts risk assessments and responds to requests for protective measures, due to safety concerns around the coronavirus.

The letter calls on the National Protection Unit to “adopt all measures necessary” to protect the life and work of human rights defenders “in the context of the current social, economic, and health emergency.” It also calls on state authorities to ensure that emergency measures allow journalists and other human rights defenders to “continue fulfilling their essential work,” and to refrain from restricting their work or movement.

The joint letter is available in English and Spanish.