An independent Italian journalist covering a land conflict between farmers and a large property holder has been shot at in northern Colombia, according to a statement released Wednesday by the Foundation for Free Press (FLIP).
The incident reportedly occurred on Tuesday on a large private property in Cesar, where freelance journalist Bruno Frederico was filming a land dispute between alleged displacement victims and estate-owner Juan Manuel Fernandez.
Apparently, two men appeared and began to threaten Frederico and the nine local farmers he had arrived with, trying to force them to exit the property.
While the group was leaving, the two men, allegedly workers in the employ of Fernandez, let off a series of shots aimed at the group and Frederico, who was still filming. According to the El Espectador newspaper, nobody was hit, and the group was able to flee the scene unhurt.
FLIP has since called on local authorities to investigate the case extensively and capture the persons responsible.
Film Frederico successfully carried away from the scene reportedly identifies the men responsible, but as of yet, no arrests have been announced.
In addition, FLIP is demanding that the national government pay more attention to similar violations of press freedoms and take furhter steps to secure the safety of journalists.
Members of the press are often placed under immediate risk during the course of their work in Colombia, particularly when covering sensitive topics in isolated areas, such as land restitution and union organizing and protest.
According to national newspaper El Espectador, this was the second attack on a journalist in less than a month, after the director of a local TV station in the southern city of Cali was injured on November 17 being shot by a hitman on a motorbike.
The newspaper also mentioned a recent report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which placed Colombia as the fifth worst country in the world in terms of impunity for the assassination of journalists. Since 1992, at least 41 journalists have been murdered in the country, according to the report.
- Periodista italiano fue atacado a bala en el Cesar (El Espectador)
- Le disparan a periodista extranjero mientras documentaba un caso de despojo en Cesar (Foundation for Free Press)