Bogotá, Colombia, October 11, 2022 – Colombian authorities must thoroughly investigate a shooting at the home and office of journalist Erick Niño, bring those responsible to justice, and guarantee Niño’s safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday.
Around 10:45 p.m. on October 5, two men aboard a motorcycle armed with pistols shot several times at Niño’s apartment, which also serves as the office for his independent digital outlet La Popular Stereo Colombia TV, in the central Colombian town of Puerto Wilches, according to neighbors who observed the attack and told Niño, who spoke to CPJ by messaging app, and news reports.
Niño had left his apartment shortly before the attack and returned to find bullet holes in the door, window, and roof of his apartment, Niño told CPJ. He added that the attack may have been in response to his frequent reports on police and army operations against criminal organizations in the region.
The shooting follows four death threats against Niño circulated in pamphlets by criminal organizations since January 2021, which CPJ reviewed. Niño told CPJ that he also received a call to his cell phone the day before the attack, during which a male voice warned him: “You S.O.B., if you keep reporting, we are going to kill you.”
“Colombian authorities must immediately investigate the attack on journalist Erick Niño’s home and office and take all necessary measures to ensure that he can keep working safely,” said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s Latin America and the Caribbean program coordinator, in New York. “The threats against Niño have already escalated to an alarming level. It is past time for authorities to take them seriously and act to guarantee his safety.”
Niño founded La Popular Stereo Colombia TV on Facebook eight years ago and hosts a nightly one-hour local news program on the outlet’s page.
Niño said he reported the shooting to the Puerto Wilches police, and Colombia’s Attorney General’s office is investigating the attack. Additionally, Niño said he has repeatedly requested help from the Colombian government’s National Protection Unit, which guards individuals under threat, but there has been no response.
CPJ’s text and voice messages to the Puerto Wilches police, the press office of the Attorney General’s office in Bogotá, and the National Protection Unit went unanswered.