Nelson Carvajal Carvajal

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Carvajal, a highly regarded radio journalist in the town of Pitalito, Huila Department, was shot several times outside the elementary school where he taught. The gunman and an accomplice escaped by motorcycle, according to several eyewitnesses.

Carvajal was the producer of five community programs on Radio Sur, a local affiliate of Radio Cadena Nacional. In addition to programming on topics ranging from health services to rural development, Carvajal also often reported on local government corruption scandals and money laundering by drug traffickers. In one case, Carvajal reported that the former mayor of Pitalito had misappropriated public funds.

In a 2001 trial, three defendants accused of the killing, a businessman, a former Pitalito town councilman, and another individual, were declared not guilty.

A key government witness was killed in 2007, according to the Bogotá-based Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP).

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights determined in 2015 that Carvajal was killed in retaliation for his work as a journalist, a finding that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ratified in 2018

In 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights submitted the case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, after determining that the Colombian government had failed to carry out a "serious, diligent, and timely" investigation, according to its submission.

In a statement released June 6, 2018, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, condemned the Colombian government for failing to properly investigate and pursue justice in the case.

The court found the government guilty of negligent treatment of Carvajal’s family and said that it failed to investigate death threats against nine of the journalist’s relatives, who were forced to flee the country. It also found the government responsible for "extraordinary delays" in pursuing justice

The court, which is part of the Organization of American States, ordered the government to continue investigating Carvajal’s death and to organize a public event at which high-ranking officials accept and acknowledge the state’s responsibility. It ordered the government to guarantee conditions for the safe return of Carvajal’s relatives currently living abroad, to pay them damages, and to provide them with access to counseling.