Regional journalists in Colombia work in “an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship”, said the country’s Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) Thursday in its annual report.
Reporters working in areas where the conflict is more present cannot work freely, said FLIP, which said the northern department of Cordoba was the best example.
Criminal gangs and neo-paramilitaries have a strong presence in the region. Only two attacks were recording in 2011 — because the journalists there self-censored, said the report.
FLIP executive director Andres Morales told news agency EFE, “This is what a radio reporter in Cordoba told us about this situation: ‘I will not publish anything because I know the consequences that await me. I [self-censor] for sheer survival.”
The report highlighted the murder of a 70-year-old journalist, Luis Gomez, who was shot in June as he prepared to testify about alleged links between local politicians and paramilitaries in Antioquia.
It also documented the bombing of two media offices, and 94 cases of journalists being threatened, especially during Colombia’s regional and local elections in October.
With a total of 131 journalists falling victims to some form of aggression in 2011, Colombia remained one of “the most dangerous places to practise journalism, especially for local journalists,” said Morales.