A police officer pursues a protester in Bogota, Colombia, on May 1, 2021. CPJ called on Colombian authorities to ensure that journalists can cover protests safely. (Reuters/Luisa Gonzalez)

CPJ calls on Colombian security forces to ensure safety of journalists covering demonstrations

New York, May 5, 2021 — The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Colombian security forces to ensure that journalists can freely and safely cover demonstrations across the country.

“We are deeply concerned by widespread reports of human rights abuses by Colombian security forces responding to protests, including dozens of reported press freedom violations,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “The ongoing demonstrations in Colombia are a matter of critical public interest, and Colombian authorities must respect the right of the press to cover them without fear they may be attacked, injured, or detained.”

At least 19 people have been killed and more than 800 injured since demonstrations began on April 28, initially in response to a tax reform proposal by President Iván Duque’s government, which was later withdrawn, according to news reports.

As of May 3, the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) had documented at least 70 incidents involving journalists covering the protests, including robberies, harassment, and injuries, including one reporter who was struck in the helmet by a tear gas canister fired by police. According to FLIP, a majority of its documented attacks were committed by the National Police and its anti-riot squad.