Miami (September 15, 2011)—At a time when the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is calling on UNESCO and the United Nations to use their influence for governments to be more dedicated and effective in the defense and protection of the work of the press, the organization was astonished that in Colombia another case of a journalist murdered 20 years ago has gone unpunished.
The statute of limitations in the case of the 1991 murder of Arsenio Hoyos Lozano, owner and editor of the radio station La Voz de Ariari and a civic leader in the municipality of Granada, Meta province, expired two days ago (September 13). This was the eighth such case this year in Colombia, where amendment of Law No. 1426 of December 29, 2010, extended the length of the statute of limitations from 20 to 30 years, but was not retroactive.
IAPA President Gonzalo Marroquín, president of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Siglo 21, expressed concern at “the lack of justice and inaction by the government to solve the Hoyos case and other murders that will forever go unpunished.”
Marroquín was referring to two other murder cases likely to expire before the end of this year – the deaths of journalists Rafael Solano Brochero, a freelance, killed in Fundación, Magdalena, on October 30, 1991, and Néstor Henry Rojas Monje, correspondent of El Tiempo in Arauca, murdered there on December 28, 1991.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas, joined the criticism issued by Colombia’s Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) of the country’s justice system over the Hoyos case, declaring that it had “failed to comply with its obligation to investigate and prosecute those responsible during a reasonable timeframe, and it has also not respected the right of his family members to learn the facts of the events.”
In the next few days the IAPA plans to submit to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) the already prescribed cases of journalist Julio Daniel Chaparro Hurtado and news photographer Jorge Enrique Torres Navas of the Bogotá newspaper El Espectador, murdered on April 24, 1991.
In all, the IAPA has submitted 27 cases to the IACHR since 1997, of which 14 have been admitted to date.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com.