The International Women’s Media Foundation on Wednesday awarded Colombian investigative journalist Claudia Duque with a Courage in Journalism Award.
Duque, an investigative journalist for Colombia’s Radio Nizkor, told a crowd of 600 in New York how she was kidnapped and robbed in July 2001 when she started investigating the 1999 murder of political humorist and journalist Jaime Garzon. The kidnappers told her to stop her research, but she refused and in 2004, her suspicions that Colombia’s secret police tampered with evidence related to his murder were confirmed.
As a result of this incident and constant threats to her life — sometimes up to 70 calls a day — she was forced to leave Colombia three times. In December 2009, she discovered a memorandum which confirmed that the threats — including one to kill, rape and torture her then 10-year-old daughter — were by the secret police, which reported directly to President Alvaro Uribe.
“As a victim, I will fight until the last day of my life for real justice, which only will be possible when former President Alvaro Uribe …. is convicted for the illegal persecution he led against more than 300 people in Colombia,” Duque said. “As a journalist, I will continue working to make people aware about the real dimensions of the espionage and its consequences for Colombia’s democracy.”
She recalled that in 2004, her daughter asked for “a normal life” as a Christmas present. But as Christmas 2010 approaches, Duque said, “we are still far away from a normal life” and she continues her journalism “under extreme circumstances.”