Although during this period the climate of threats against journalists persisted crimes and attacks on them have lessened in the past 10 years. According to figures provided by the Foundation of Press Freedom (FLIP) in 2011 the murder of one journalist was reported, that of Luis Eduardo Gómez, a freelance reporter killed on June 30 in Antioquia province. In 2010 there had been two murders and one in 2009, while in 2006 there were six. Threats have also been fewer, with just five cases being reported, one of them involved threats made to Medellín newspaper El Espectador reporter Mary Luz Avendaño, who had to leave the country as a result. One frequent action against the media in recent months has been the use of civil court actions to obtain information about legal reports that the media publish, especially those in which police provide data. Such lawsuits were filed recently against the newspapers El Tiempo, El País, El Colombiano and Meridiano de Córdoba. Another cause for concern is a number of cases of crimes against journalists becoming subject to statutes of limitations. On October 5, during celebration of the 30th anniversary of Colombian news agency Colprensa, President Juan Manuel Santos reminded regional and national media executives of his firm commitment to freedom of expression, calling upon the media to be increasingly critical and act as watchdogs over the funds that are invested and the big projects proposed by local and regional governments. The most noteworthy violations in this period were: On May 26, in Popayán, Cauca province, radio reporter Héctor Rodríguez was the victim of an attack on his life. Rodríguez, with the La Veterana radio station in Popayán, was arriving at his workplace when two unidentified men approached him and one of them shot straight at him. Thanks to the action of his bodyguards he was unhurt. He said that he had begun to receive threats after exposing on his new program “En Línea FM Noticias” the participation of subservice groups in municipal elections in the Cauca city of Patía. In May, unidentified persons entered the home of Gonzalo Guillén, a freelance investigative reporter and stringer for several international media, stole a 1,000 gigabyte hard drive and a personal laptop computer in which he had information for his news reports. He told FLIP that “on the hard drive I had more than 15 years’ journalistic information.” He said the thieves took sensitive material on corruption in the Armed Forces. Guillén was one of the victims of unlawful interceptions and tracking carried out by the Security Administrative Department (SAS) and had suffered a number of threats in previous years for what he reported on. Luis Eduardo Gómez was murdered on June 30 in the city of Arboletes in the Urabá region of Antioquia province on the border with Córdoba province. Local officials told the FLIP that two unidentified men intercepted Gómez, shot him several times and fled on a motorcycle. He was a 70-year-old freelance journalist doing work for the Urabá newspapers El Heraldo and Urabá al Día and a number of local public bodies. Gómez was a witness in the Public Prosecutor’s Office investigations into cases of alleged paramilitary and joint political activities in the region, and his son, an assistant of his, had been killed two years ago in circumstances that the authorities have yet to determine. Gómez’ murder came three days after the death of José Vicente Botero, a municipal official and community leader in Arboletes who had earlier received threats from paramilitary groups. Botero and Gómez were both witnesses in proceedings against paramilitaries being conducted in the region. On June 19 the complete press run of the Barranquilla newspaper El Heraldo that was sent to the neighboring city of Santa Marta, capital of the northern Colombian province of Magdalena, was bought up in full by groups operating outside the law, probably paramilitaries. The paper’s Sunday edition that day contained a special report by Oscar Montes headlined “The Magdalena Mafia Spider’s Web” in which a review was made of several candidates for office in that province influenced by paramilitaries. Mary Luz Avendaño, correspondent of El Espectador in Medellín, left the country after receiving threats, despite having been given protection by the municipal police for the past few months. She worked for Teleantioquia and Hora 13 Noticias as well as El Espectador, covering human rights, armed conflict and drug trafficking topics. On June 22 a source sought her out and told her he had received a phone call in which he was warned “Tell your friend, reporter Mary Luz, to stop publishing sissy stuff, or does she want to win the big prize?” A few days after that phone call others were made to the offices of El Espectador in Medellín asking for Avedaño’s personal details and address. Another case of threats being made was reported in Valledupar, against Ana María Ferrer, a journalist with the local news program “La Cuarta Columna” aired by Canal 12 television, a member of the board of directors of the newspaper El Pilón and the communications chief of the Committee for Evaluation and Follow-up of Royalties Investment (CSIR). On September 29, a man identifying himself as a member of the Los Urabeños criminal gang called the local radio station Radio Guatapurí and said he had been ordered to attempt to take the life of a number of people in the city, among them journalist Ana María Ferrer, and some of her bodyguards. During the call the supposed member of the Urabeños said that the order to make the attempt on Ferrer’s life had been given because of “some reports she has been making about the Urabeños gang operating in Valledupar.” Despite repeated requests, statutes of limitations were applied in the cases of the murders of Julio Daniel Chaparro and Jorge Enrique Torres, killed on April 24, 1991 by unknown persons while they were working for El Espectador on the impact of the local Segovia massacre carried out by paramilitaries on November 11, 1988, which left more than 40 people dead and was declared to have been a crime against humanity. The public prosecutor in charge of the matter told that investigations would cease because the four murderers, according to him, National Liberation Army (ELN) guerrillas, were themselves killed in 2000 and 2002 during battles with police. In addition, in its decision the Public Prosecutor’s Office ruled out declaring the murders crimes against humanity as the victims’ families, the FLIP and other press organizations had asked. The Office insisted, in announcing the decision, that it was an isolated incident “it having been established that the murder of Julio Daniel Chaparro Hurtado and Jorge Torres Navas was not carried out because they were newsmen, and much less for working for the newspaper El Espectador.” Also made subject to a statute of limitations were the cases of the 1991 murders of Carlos Julio Rodríguez and José Libardo Meléndez on May 20 and Arsenio Hoyos Lozano on September 13 in Granada, Meta province. Family members of murdered comedian and journalist Jaime Garzón and the Colombian Jurists Commission filed suit against the Colombian government in regard to his murder after learning of a confidential diplomatic cable in 1999 that was recently declassified. In the cable it was said that the day before he was killed Garzón met with some Army generals, who expressed to him their annoyance at the work he had been doing to renew talks between the government and the ELN guerrillas. The cable made it clear that Garzón was murdered just hours before he had been due to travel to Medellín, where he was to meet with an ELN spokesman in the Itagüí prison and it said that he had planned to go to the mountains in Córdoba and Urabá to meet with paramilitary chief Carlos Castaño. That meeting, the cable said, was understood to have been arranged through a drug trafficker known as “Popeye.” The document said that both the paramilitaries and the ELN denied being responsible for the murder, which they publicly condemned, and compiled other versions that would point to another guerrilla group, the FARC, or individuals close to the security forces as being those responsible. In addition, the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective presented evidence of a conversation in which a Colombian Army general showed his displeasure at Garzón’s work. The President of the Republic signed Law 1480 of 2011 on October 6th “by means of which the Consumer Statute is issued and other provisions are specified.” Its article 30 states: Deceptive advertising is prohibited. The advertiser shall be responsible for losses caused by its deceptive advertising. The media outlet shall be jointly responsible only if it is proven to be at fault or have serious complicity. In cases in which the advertiser does not meet the objective conditions included in the advertisement, without prejudice to administrative sanctions which may apply, it must answer directly to the consumer for damages and losses caused. Andiarios in a communiqué sent to its members calls attention to this law, the content of which could generate problems for the media; in conjunction with its legal department it will study the possibility of challenging the cited article. This could be of great inconvenience for newspapers, as it is almost impossible to know when an advertisement is misleading. This liability has always been that of the advertiser (the producer or provider of goods and services). Establishment of joint liability could turn media into censors of advertising content, which violates both freedom of commercial expression and freedom of enterprise, which enjoy constitutional protection. The bill for a General Code of Proceedings, for its part, would eliminate announcements of legal proceedings, which would limit the revenue newspapers receive for such ads. Senate Bill No. 241 seeks to regulate responsibility for breaches of copyright on the Internet. The bill would authorize service providers to withdraw or ban content that might violate copyright without court order. A bill was approved that seeks to establish racism, racial discrimination and harassment for reasons of race or national, ethnic or cultural origin as new criminal offenses. It in addition would make it an aggravated offense for such conduct to be carried out through the use of mass media. In the Anti-Corruption Statute the budget for official advertising is reduced by 30%. Bill No. 014 of the Chamber of Deputies and No, 45 of the Senate seek to enact a Juvenile Citizens Statute empowering the state to create mechanisms for the control and punishment of news media that encourage stigmatization through the use of discriminatory information or language. Recently introduced in Congress was a bill for Law No. 142 of 2011 which would establish the Electoral Code and presumably restrictive issues for the media regarding electoral propaganda, polling, disclosure of information and the hiring of services. Public servants would be prohibited from increasing official advertising during 10 months prior to the date of any voting and publishing in news media during the six months prior to election day the results of any findings regarding official expenditures. Also sought to be banned is state bodies making direct contracts during the four months prior to any election, which would prevent placement of official advertising in newspapers. Clause 75 would establish that all media would be required to contribute to the strengthening of democracy and ensuring during an election campaign pluralism, news balance, impartiality and equal treatment in disseminating parties’ proposed action plans, something that already exists for broadcast media. Also to be banned would be vote polling or opinion surveys during the week prior to the date of an election, which currently applies only to presidential elections. The bill also seeks to require news media that publish electoral propaganda to present to the National Electoral Council within the month following the day of elections and in a special format the Council would design a report on the parties, political movements and groups and campaigns that contracted for placement of electoral propaganda or were the object of donation of that kind of propaganda, indicating its value. Clause 136 seeks to prohibit any kind of electoral propaganda, statements, press releases and interviews with political-electoral ends on election day. Clause 138 in turn, on restrictions regarding information, repeats this above-mentioned ban and also would prohibit opinion programs that promote or support candidates, parties, political movements or a determined choice of action in citizen participation. Clause 10 of Law No. 163, now in force, prohibits electoral propaganda on election day, but not the publication of press releases and interviews. Such bans could be unconstitutional. This week a decision became known from the First Municipal Criminal Court of Fusagasugá that convicted journalist Luis Agustín González, director of the newspaper Cundinamarca Democrática, to 20 months of prison and payment of a fine equivalent to 20 minimum monthly wages for the commission of the crimes of defamation and aggravated slander. According to a press release from the Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP), “the journalist had been criminally accused by the former governor and political leader of Cundinamarca, Leonor Serrano de Camargo, for an editorial published in 2008, titled “NO MORE!” in which González questioned Serrano’s then candidacy to Congress. The Association of Newspapers and Informative Media, ANDIARIOS in a press release issued on October 13 considers the use of criminal cases against journalists for expressing their opinions a dangerous precedent for freedom of opinion, especially when such cases refer to public servants or to people who aspire to popular election, since it may constitute a means of censorship and generate inconvenient limitations for the political debate that is so fundamental to democracy.