Police detain a man during an anti-government protest in Bogota, Colombia, on May 5, 2021. CPJ and partner organizations called on Colombian authorities to address press freedom violations in their response to the protests. (AP/Fernando Vergara)

CPJ, partners call on Colombian authorities to address press freedom violations in protest response

The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and IFEX-ALC–which includes 24 member organizations across Latin America–yesterday sent a letter to Colombian President Iván Duque and three other high-ranking Colombian officials urging them to investigate press freedom violations committed by state security forces responding to protests and guarantee Colombians’ rights to access information and free expression.

The letter expresses concern about police officers’ reported use of force against demonstrators and journalists covering the protests–which began in multiple cities in Colombia on April 28–as well as threats against individuals documenting human rights abuses and limited access to information about the state response to the demonstrations, including the number of people killed and injured. Between April 28 and May 3, the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) documented at least 70 incidents involving journalists covering the protests, including robberies, harassment, and injuries, a majority of them committed by the National Police and its anti-riot squad.

The signatory organizations called on Duque, the minister of defense, the attorney general, and director of the National Police to “send a message of zero tolerance” to state agents responsible for press freedom violations, to immediately investigate these incidents and open disciplinary proceedings against those responsible, and to ensure the free flow of information.

The full letter is available in Spanish here.