Impunity - Colombia

WHEREAS the Office of the Prosecutor closed part of its investigation into the murder of the managing editor of La Patria, Orlando Sierra, dismissed all testimony and leads pointing to a well-known local politician as the probable mastermind of the crime, and reassigned the case and the investigation to a special prosecutor in Manizales WHEREAS through a sentence reduction program, Luis Carlos Molina Yepes, who is one of the people convicted of murdering Guillermo Cano in 1986, recently was released from prison after serving only six years of his sentence WHEREAS no progress was made by the Human Rights Unit of the Attorney General’s Office in the past six months towards solving the crimes against journalists under its jurisdiction WHEREAS in light of the importance for the country of solving crimes against journalists, the new Code of Criminal Procedure that takes effect in 2005 classifies any murder of a journalist as an aggravated murder and exempts such offenses from any statutes of limitation, and that this change in the law has the support of legal experts and human rights agencies WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states, “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 GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to urge the Special Prosecutor of Manizales who has been assigned to pursue the Orlando Sierra case, to guarantee that his investigation will seek to identify and punish the real masterminds of the murder, and to urge him also to heed witness testimonies that pointed towards a well-known politician from Caldas to make known to the Government of Colombia our dismay over the release of Luis Carlos Molina Yepes, which, in our considered opinion, represents a step backwards in the struggle against impunity to request that Dr. Elba Beatriz Silva, director of the Human Rights Unit of the Attorney General’s Office, explain why the unit overseeing journalism cases has failed to make any progress in solving crimes to request the appropriate government agency investigate the causes behind the Attorney General’s Office failure to solve the murder of journalists to call on prosecutors to be mindful of the importance the legislature accorded to crimes against journalists when it decided to exempt them from any statutes of limitation and to step up investigations seeking to identify the killers.