Impunity - Colombia

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WHEREAS the vast majority of legal proceedings concerning the murder of journalists bring few results as to who committed them and masterminded them, in particular the cases of murdered journalists Gerardo Bedoya (Cali, Valle del Cauca, March 21, 1997), Jairo Elías Márquez (Armenia, Quindío, February 10, 1997) and Ernesto Acero Cadena (Armenia, Quindío, December 12, 1995) WHEREAS the Barranquilla Circuit Specialized Criminal Court acquitted, after holding hearings lasting more than a year, the alleged perpetrator of the March 19, 1993, murder of Carlos Lajud Catalán and the prosecution appealed the acquittal WHEREAS since January 2002 the Colombian Attorney General’s Office has filed an appeal against the acquittal by the Valledupar Circuit Specialized Criminal Court of the alleged perpetrators of the murder of journalist Guzmán Quintero Torres WHEREAS in the past six months five journalists have been murdered – José Elí Escalante of radio station Voz del Cinaruco and Luis Eduardo Alfonso of radio station Meridiano 70 in Arauca province; Gimbler Perdomo, news director of radio station Gigante Stereo in Huila province, Oscar Salazar, manager and owner of radio station Radio Sevilla in Sevilla, Valle del Cauca and Agustín de Jesús Rodríguez, director of the community radio station Fantasia Stereo in Palestina, Caldas province -- nine journalists have been kidnapped and threats continue WHEREAS the Interior Ministry’s Committee for the Protection of Journalists takes as long as an average of 63 days, according to information gathered by the Foundation for Press Freedom, to conduct a risk survey; of 74 cases of threats 33% have received no protection; the implementation of protective measures takes as long as four months, putting at risk the lives of journalists, who are forced to give up practicing their profession in their regions without those responsible for making the threats being punished WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec holds that “freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, pressure, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators. Such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly” THE IAPA MIDYEAR MEETING RESOLVES to urge the Colombian Attorney General’s Office to review the status of the cases in the Crimes Against Journalists Unit to determine the reasons for their slow progress and to produce due results swiftly to once again urge the Barranquilla High Court to respond as soon as possible to the appeal that has been lodged and to explain the reasons why there has been no ruling to urge the Valledupar High Court to respond as soon as possible to the appeal and to explain the reason why there has been no ruling to call upon the authorities to solve the crimes against, kidnapping of and threats to journalists and to punish those responsible to urge the Committee for the Protection of Journalists to ensure that risk surveys and implementation of protective measures are carried out in the shortest possible time and that investigation is carried out into all complaints of threats against journalists so as to identify those responsible.

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