Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos says his government is dedicated to freedom of the press and protecting journalists, and aims to end the assassination of journalists in the country.
Santos was invited to speak at a summit of the Inter-American Press Association held in the Mexican city of Merida.
In his speech, Santos said that one Colombian journalist was murdered in the course of 2010 and one was killed in 2009.
The president said his government aims to end the assassination of journalists as “one murder is too much for us.”
“Every democracy needs freedom of expression and freedom of press,” Santos said. “Colombia is a country where the press enjoys freedom. At least from the government there is no intention to curtail that freedom. Be assured that this will continue under my government and in future governments,” the president added.
According to Santos, 170 Colombian journalists are receiving some form of state protection. “Because of this people ask ‘is that how many journalists are threatened?’ The answer is ‘probably not, but we prefer to err on the side of excess than omission.”
Colombia fell 19 places in this year’s press freedom index by Reporters Without Borders, ranked 145th out of 178 countries.
Clothilde Le Coz, director of the NGO’s Washington office, told Colombia Reports that Reporters Without Borders went to Colombia to investigate the situation and found a “very violent country” where the government has been spying on journalists.
Three journalists have been killed in Colombia since the beginning of 2010, according to statistics from The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a watchdog NGO focused on freedom of the press.
NGO the Committee to Protect Journalists says that two journalists were killed in Colombia in 2009, and one in 2010.