Miami (May 8, 2012)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today urged the Colombian FARC guerrilla movement to respect press freedom and international treaties requiring guarantees for the work of reporters in conflict, after calling for the immediate unconditional release of French journalist Romeo Langlois, kidnapped on April 28.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, criticized a request by the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) that Langlois’ release be conditional on a national and international debate being held on what it said was manipulation of news to its detriment.
Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared, that “this condition to release a kidnapped person is absolutely unacceptable and is in conflict with international practice.”
He said that the FARC is responsible for the life of the journalist, who they should set free immediately.
In this regard, Mohme cited United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738 (2006) in which it is established that “journalists, news media professionals and associated personnel who carry out dangerous professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be regarded as civilians and be respected and protected as such.”
Langlois was injured in the arm during a clash between soldiers and members of the FARC in Caquetá province on April 28 while he was accompanying Army units, with the objective of filming a documentary for television channel France 24. He had been wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet, which he had taken off shortly before being abducted.
The IAPA periodically holds seminars on reporting under risk, in which are envisioned such situations as happened to Langlois. Within the framework of training, which also is given to public officials, what is stressed is the Declaration of Chapultepec, among whose principles is that “…restrictions on the activities and movements of journalists directly contradict freedom of the press.”
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. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.