10 February 2008

IAPA protests threats to Colombian journalists, calls for investigation into reporter’s murder

IAPA protests threats to Colombian journalists, calls for investigation into reporter’s murder


MIAMI, Florida (February 11, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed alarm at threats made to journalists and news media in Colombia while it condemned the murder of a reporter and urged the authorities to step in and take immediate action..


The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, said that the organization was calling on the Colombian officials to act “to identify those responsible and prevent an increase in the self-censorship that some Colombian journalists and media resort to out of fear of reprisals.”


Manuel Antonio Macías Carrera was murdered in the township of Algeciras in Huila province on the night of February 9 by unidentified assailants who fled on a motorcycle. In addition to hosting a program broadcast by Radio Surcolombiana he served as town councilman. It was not immediately known if the motive for his killing was linked to his work as a journalist or his politics.


Officials told the IAPA that they were investigating an e-mail circulating with the face of journalist Vicky Dávila covered by a cross and an intercepted wiretap conversation with a member of the FARC leftwing guerrilla organization warning that “the news media are going to pay the debt they owe” in direct reference to Dávila and her role as a news anchor and director of FM broadcasts on the RCN Radio network.


RCN Radio director Juan Gossain said that “since the announcement of public protest marches against kidnappers and terrorists, RCN in general and I personally have received telephoned threats to several stations in a number of cities, Medellín among them.”


William Salleg Taboada, editor of the Córdoba newspaper El Meridiano, reported threats had been made against him and several of his reporters after publishing a story exposing corruption in the city government’s public works administration.


In another incident, the director of radio station Acción Estéreo and correspondent of Voz del Tolima, José Joaquín Chávez, was forced to leave Tolima due to recurring death threats following the airing of an Army announcement about the demobilization of guerrillas.