The Foundation for the Liberty of the Press (FLIP) on Tuesday released a preliminary report on press freedom in Colombia in 2009. The report finds the DAS illegal wire-tappings of journalists to be the greatest obstacle to freedom of the press in the Andean nation.
The preliminary report, published to celebrate Colombia’s Day of the Journalist, finds that “the state of the liberty of the press in Colombia [in 2009] did not vary significantly in comparison to previous years”.
However FLIP recognizes that the illegal wire-tappings and tracking of journalists conducted by security agency DAS constitutes a “grave violation” of press freedom in 2009.
There were 157 “violations of press freedom” of 258 victims in 2009, compared to 129 cases affecting 180 victims in 2008, according to the report.
FLIP cites the sixteen cases of wire-tapping admitted to by DAS but believes “the phenomenon is much greater.”
“The prosecutor has not yet analyzed all the material seized. The first findings of the prosecution’s investigation suggest evidence that DAS not only conducted the illegal interception of communications and monitoring of journalists, but also designed handbooks on how to intimidate, as evidenced by prosecution research in the case of the wire-tapping of journalist Claudia Julieta Duque, a correspondent for Radio Nizkor in Colombia,” the report reads.
The report denounces the murder of journalist Jose Everado Aguilar from Radio Super in Cauca. FLIP believes that his investigations into and denouncements of corruption were a motive for his murder on April 24.
According to the report, there were 74 threats against journalists in 2009, with the departments of Cauca, Atlantico and Antioquia registering the greatest numbers.
The report will be published in its entirety on February 16 following an official launch at the Javeriana University in Bogota.