Occasional threats against small news media outlets in inland Colombia are continuing, made by paramilitary gangs, criminals, drug traffickers and revolutionaries. Just in the department of Magdalena, in the city of Santa Marta, eleven journalists received death threats through pamphlets, telephone calls, and intimidations. Among the journalists threatened are the director of the newspaper Hoy Diario de Magdalena and the vice president of the IAPA Committee on Impunity, Ulilo Acevedo Silva; the director of Radio Magdalena, Cipriano Lopez Janica, and nine more communicators from local broadcast outlets and a newspaper. Authorities have identified as presumed authors of the threats armed groups at the edge of the law who have been acting in collusion with persons who have been directly denounced in press notes. A matter of continuing concern are legal actions being taken against media and journalists over news and opinion content, and some enacted laws, among them the Consumer Statute which establishes joint responsibility of the media for misleading advertising in cases in which malice or serious wrongdoing is proven. The most important cases in this period: Beginning on September 17 the scheduled five-day trial began of Caldas political leader Ferney Tapasco, accused of being the mastermind of the January 30, 2002 murder of the managing editor of the newspaper La Patria, Orlando Sierra. In addition to Tapasco, the Public Prosecutor’s Office has also named as involved in the murder Henry Calle Obando and the brothers Gabriel Jaime, Jorge Hernando and Fabio López Escobar, who worked with the Liberal Party leader. However, after three days the trial was suspended, on September 20, by the prosecutor in the case, saying that he was unable to arrange the participation in the trial of several key witnesses, rescheduling it for November 30. After twelve years of impunity, National Human Rights Unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office took a significant step towards solving the crimes of which journalist Jineth Bedoya Lima was the victim on May 25, 2000, when she was kidnapped, tortured and raped by members of self-defense groups. The investigative body issued a warrant for the arrest of three former paramilitaries, while acknowledging that this case should be treated as a crime against humanity. On August 23, the Supreme Court’s Criminal Tribunal rejected statements made in the opinion columns of journalists María Ximena Duzán of the magazine Semana and Cecilia Orozco of the newspaper El Espectador in which they mentioned that judicial body, and announced that it would file criminal charges for libel and calumny with the Colombian Attorney General’s Office against Orozco, arguing that the statements contained in her column were “unfounded, twisted, unrestrained and insulting.” The Supreme Court announced on August 27 that “with the intent of contributing to the climate of deliberation and restraint that this country needs so much” it would give up its plan to charge Orozco. On May 15, an attack was reported on Fernando Londoño Hoyos, former Interior and Justice Minister and the current director of a radio program broadcast by Cadena Súper. The assault, which left two of his bodyguards dead, took place in the north of Bogotá. Londoño was seriously injured in the attack, but survived. Another 30 people traveling in the area were also wounded. The authorities arrested four people hired by the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) guerrilla movement to carry out the attack. French journalist Roméo Langlois, who went missing on Saturday, April 28 following clashes between the Army and the FARC in Caquetá, had been kidnapped, reported France’s Foreign Relations Minister Alain Juppé the following day. The Defense Ministry said that Langlois, who had been in Colombia for the past 10 years, was accompanying a squad of soldiers and police officers to cover raids intended to destroy cocaine processing laboratories where clashes erupted with members of the FARC’s 15 Front in the Montañita rural area of Caquetá province. In the armed encounters, in which three soldiers and one police officer were killed, Langlois – a stringer for television station France 24 and the newspaper Le Figaro – wore a bulletproof vest and a helmet that the armed forces gave him at the outset of the operation, said Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón. On finding himself in the midst of the crossfire Langlois took off his helmet and vest and turned himself over to guerrillas amid the fighting, and was wounded in the arm. Langlois remained in the FARC’s hands for a month, and was freed on May 27. Acting as go-betweens for his release were the International Committee of the Red Cross, former senator Piedad Córdoba and Jean-Baptiste Chauvin, the delegate of the French government. According to reports by the Foundation for Press Freedom in Colombia (FLIP) on June 5 journalist and editor of the newspaper La Tarde, Diro César González, was threatened in Barrancabermeja, Santander province. The threat – made on notepaper – was left under the door to his home and was believed to have been made by the Rastrojos criminal gang. González is a beneficiary of the Interior Ministry’s journalists protection program and this was the seventh threat he has received in six years. The threat came after González published his book “Los días que estremecieron Barrancabermeja” (The Days That Shook Barrancabermeja), a compilation of journalistic investigations into issues of public order and paramilitary activity in the region. On August 3, Paola Osorio, an announcer with community radio station Sarare Estéreo in Arauca, was injured in an attack with explosives. The blast occurred just a few yards from the station and injured her as she was leaving the building. There continues to be an increase in legal actions against media and journalists over news and opinion content. Of concern are decisions taken without any prior investigation into the truth of the information, ruling on criminal responsibility on the basis of editors’ editorial roles. At the behest of the Colombian Newspapers Association (Andiarios) and FLIP on April 26 jurist Guillermo Puyana, with the support of attorney Rodrigo Uprimny, filed an appeal against a sentence issued on February 29, 2012 in which the Cundinamarca Criminal Court convicted journalist Luis Agustín González, editor of the newspaper Cundinamarca Democrática, and sentenced him to eighteen months in prison and payment of a fine equivalent to seventeen legal minimum monthly wages on a charge of libel. The court said in its sentence that criticisms contained in the editorial headlined “¡No Más!” (No More!), published in December 2008, questioned the administration of former Cundinamarca governor Leonor Serrano Camargo, and warned of her intention to return to the Colombian Congress, thus damaging the moral integrity of the political leader. The Court scheduled a hearing on the appeal for October 22. Several legislative bills, if passed, would restrict press freedom. There will continue to be attempts by legislators to impose upon newspapers and other news media requirements and prohibitions concerning the dissemination of content that affect editorial autonomy and limit freedom of information. Bill No. 69/12 would prohibit “television, written, radio, virtual and website news media that operate in Colombian territory from providing classified ad services, carrying advertising, presenting programs or contests, or offering services where explicit or implicit insinuation of sexual services is made, or any content that has a direct relationship thereto, under penalty of fines of ten (10) to one hundred (100) current legal minimum monthly wages on the part of the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications, and withdrawal or censorship of the prohibited materials.” This bill, in addition, would impose on the media the obligation to conduct campaigns of prevention or about the impact of the scourge of prostitution. Senate bill No. 73/12 would impose on the news media an obligation to publish information concerning the rights and freedoms of senior citizens and their social welfare and physical and mental health, and it would prohibit them from carrying items that discriminate against older people. Senate bill No. 156 of 2011 contains important content regarding access to public information, although it has some items that are a cause for concern for the practice of journalism, such as censorship of information, documents, databases and contracts concerning national defense and security, public order and international relations; the possibility for agencies to deny documents when there is a public interest higher than that of providing information; or documents that contain the opinions or points of view that form part of the deliberative process of public servants. Because it is a statutory law, the bill is under study by the Constitutional Court. Chamber bill No. 052 of 2012 would establish a system of monitoring of news media in each province of Colombia, with the aim of “preventing information, commercial standards or campaigns contributing to or favoring any form of discrimination against or mistreatment of girls and women with the objective of favoring the eradication of such occurrences.” Senate bill No. 18 of 2012 would eliminate the special thirty-years statute of limitations, enshrined in Law No. 1426 of 2010, in cases of homicide, torture, or forced disappearance, when the victim is a journalist, member of a labor union or human rights defender. Regarding impunity, a report delivered by Andrés Morales, the FLIP executive director, shows that 139 journalists were killed for reasons connected with their work in the period 1977 to 2012. These cases have the following status: not handled by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, 49; in probable cause proceedings, 16; in preliminary hearings, 27; on trial, 3; suspended, 9; under request for dismissal, 7; with conviction, 19; and acquittal, 7; expiration of statute of limitations, 59; expired without those responsible being convicted, 45; statute of limitations to expire in what remains of this year, 1. During 2012 conviction was recorded by the Santa Marta Circuit First Criminal Court of Edgar Ariel Córdoba Trujillo, sentenced in February to twenty-four years and two months in prison for the murder of journalist Alonso Escobar on December 23, 2001 in the municipality of Fundación Magdalena. Similarly, in February the Council of State pronounced a sentence of conviction of the INPEC (National Penitentiary and Prison Institute) on an administrative finding that it was responsible for the murder of journalist Amparo Leonor Jiménez, ruling that the murderer should have been deprived of his freedom when the crime occurred on August 11, 1998. In September, legal action was ordered against Jorge Luis Alfonso López (son of La Gata, a gambling executive currently in prison), due to serious indications that connect him to the murder of politician and journalist Rafael Enrique Prins in 2005. On July 4, the trial started of José Miguel Narváez on a charge of being the alleged mastermind in the murder of Jaime Garzón.