A commission of the Organization of American States on Wednesday urged Colombia to increase efforts to resolve the case of a recently assassinated journalist.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression dissipated a press release on Wednesday condemning the murder of cameraman Yonni Caicedo, stating that it is “essential for the State to identify, prosecute and punish those responsible.”
Caicedo was murdered on February 19 in Buenaventura, western Colombia.
Caicedo had received death threats seven months earlier while investigating a murder in the city. He was advised to leave the city along with his family, and did so, but was killed on February 19 when he returned briefly.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur expressed its concern and urged the Colombian authorities to act promptly and timely to establish the motive of the crime and to activate “all the legal instruments available to identify and punish the perpetrators.”
Caicedo had worked as a cameraman for local news networks TV Noticias and Más Noticias and it was during his covering of a homicide in District 12 of Buenaventura seven months ago that he was approached by a group of men who told him to stop filming and leave. Caicedo was then held against his will by these men until he was able to escape with the help of the police. It was after this event that he chose to leave the city.
The murder of Caicedo has garnered much national and international coverage and, on February 21 the National Protection Unit (UNP) issued a statement in which it strongly condemned the murder of the cameraman and called on the Office of the Public Prosecutor to investigate the facts.
The city of Buenaventura is itself in the midst of crisis, as armed gangs fight for control of the city and its position as a crucial export center for illegal narcotics.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as strengthen the important existent mechanisms of protection to ensure the safety of those who are being threatened because of their work in journalism.
According to the release, principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that the”murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation.”
Therefore the Office of the Special Rapporteur, which was created to encourage the defense of the freedom of thought and expression, sees it as imperative that Colombian authorities do their utmost to find and charge the perpetrators.
According to the NGO, The Foundation for the Liberation of the Press’ (FLIP), there were 123 direct attacks on 194 journalists in Colombia in 2013, two of which resulted in death.
As of yet, nobody has been charged with the murder.