Judge suspends publication of book about clerical child abuse in Colombia

Judges in northwest Colombia suspended the pending publication of a book about clerical child abuse in the country and threatened to take legal action against the journalist.

The book, “Let the Children Come to Me” by investigative journalist Juan Pablo Barrientos, tells histories of sexual abuse by clergymen in the predominantly Catholic country.

A judge in the town of San Rafael, Antioquia, suspended the publication of the book at the request of the town’s former altar boy coordinator where the serial rape allegedly took place.

Press freedom foundation FLIP rejected the decision to ban the publication of the book and the “judicial harassment of the journalist” who has been investigating sexual abuse by church officials for years.

The order to suspend publication of the book is contrary to the prohibition of prior censorship of articles 20 of the Political Constitution and 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The Constitutional Court has said that authorities, including judges, may not establish measures to “make the disclosure of content subject to their permission, authorization, prior examination, or cutting, adaptation, or modification.

Press freedom foundation FLIP

At the request of a priest in the town of La Ceja, Antioquia, a judge from that town ordered the journalist to reveal his sources about a case of alleged sexual abuse in that town within four hours or face legal consequences.

According to the FLIP, “these lawsuits, which are intended to suspend the publication and official launch of the book, as well as to reveal the names of the sources, constitute a strategy of judicial harassment against the press.”

Judicial mechanisms are being used to intimidate a journalist and prevent the dissemination of information of public interest.

Press freedom foundation FLIP

Barrientos has been suffering all kinds of harassment by church officials and religious fanatics ever since he revealed the first cases of sexual harassment by clergymen on W Radio last year.

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