The facade of the Administrative Department of Security intelligence agency is seen in Bogota, Colombia, on November 1, 2011. The now-defunct agency was among the government entities recently found to have violated journalist Claudia Julieta Duque’s rights. (Reuters/Fredy Builes)

Colombian court orders authorities to compensate journalist Claudia Julieta Duque for years of harassment and surveillance

New York, August 13, 2020 – In response to a decision by the Administrative Tribunal of Cundinamarca finding that the Colombian state violated journalist Claudia Julieta Duque’s rights and ordering multiple government entities to compensate her, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“The Cundinamarca Administrative Tribunal’s ruling is a necessary and overdue recognition of the Colombian state’s complicity in the harassment of journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, and is a rare measure against impunity in the country,” said CPJ Central and South Americas Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Colombian authorities should take this opportunity to make amends to Duque and to adopt the necessary measures to ensure no other journalist ever has to endure the persecution that she faced.”

The tribunal announced its decision on August 11, and found that government entities including the attorney general and inspector general’s offices, the Ministry of the Interior, and the now-defunct Administrative Department of Security, the country’s former intelligence agency, responsible for crimes including illicit surveillance, threats, psychological torture, and a failure to respond to threats against Duque and her daughter, according to news reports, a copy of the decision, which CPJ reviewed, and a statement by the Bogotá-based press freedom group Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa (FLIP).

The court instructed authorities, including the national attorney general’s office and the Ministry of the Interior, to take measures to stop any further violation of journalists’ rights, and ordered the entities to provide financial compensation to Duque, her daughter, and other family members.

Duque received harassment and anonymous death threats beginning in the early 2000s, as CPJ documented, following her reporting on the 1999 murder of journalist Jaime Garzón, whom she alleged may have been killed by the Administrative Department of Security. In 2014, a Bogotá criminal court sentenced a former high-ranking intelligence official to 11 years in prison for carrying out a campaign of aggression and death threats against Duque, as CPJ documented at the time.