The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) calls on Colombian authorities to protect journalists from violence, following threats sent to the press by neo-paramilitaries.
“We strongly condemn the threats against these journalists and urge the Colombian government to bring those who made them to justice,” IFJ President Jim Boumelha said in a press release Friday.
The IFJ is concerned by death threats towards prominent Colombian journalists sent by e-mail last week from the right-wing paramilitary group “Aguilas Negras” (Black Eagles).
“For far too long our colleagues have been subjected to unrelenting intimidation, persecution and threats to their lives. This must stop,” said the IFJ president.
According to a report by the Colombian Federation of Journalists, 2010 saw a marked increase in violent incidents against journalists, including 189 recorded cases of aggression, three cases of targeted killings and four more murders which are being investigated to see if they were work-related.
“Colombia has a poor record concerning the safety of journalists and these threats require drastic steps to ensure no harm comes to our colleagues,” said Gustavo Granero, IFJ Vice President. “It is particularly disturbing that these threats are made at a time where attacks on media are on the increase in Colombia. We need urgent measures to reverse the situation.”
The Foundation for the Liberty of Press (FLIP) of Colombia believes that the Colombian legal system, which has often failed to convict those who commit crimes against journalists, is the biggest threat facing the Colombian press today.
“The culture of impunity for crime against journalists must end now,” added Granero. “Press freedom will never thrive in the absence of genuine rule of law.”