Impunity IACHR - Court / Carvajal


Resolution of the 73rd General Assembly

Salt Lake City, Utah

October 27-30


WHEREAS on August 22-23 the IAPA together with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFK Human Rights) organization argued before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court) at its headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, in the case of the murder of Colombian journalist Nelson Carvajal Carvajal

WHEREAS Nelson Carvajal Carvajal, murdered on April 16, 1998, was editor of the news channel Noticiero Momento Regional and of radio magazines Mirador de la Semana, Amanecer en el Campo and Tribuna Médica broadcast by Radio Sur of RCN Radio in Pitalito, Huila province, and he also worked as a teacher in the local Los Pinos school

WHEREAS following his murder the IAPA's Rapid Response Unit in Colombia investigated the homicide and in 2002 submitted the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a body that in 2015 sent it to the IACHR Court to consider whether there existed elements of sufficient conviction to conclude that the crime could have been committed to silence his work as a journalist in the disclosure of unlawful acts

WHEREAS during the public hearing on August 22-23 there were present before the IACHR Court the sister of the murdered journalist, Judith Carvajal Carvajal; attorneys Angelita Baeyens and Wade McMullen of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights legal team, and IAPA Executive Director Ricardo Trotti; as well as the representatives of the IACHR, Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Edison Lanza and consultant Tatiana Guati Teubne

WHEREAS 16 members of the journalist's family sent to the IACHR Court their testimonies regarding how they were affected by the murder, while Carlos Lauría, former coordinator of the Committee to Protect Journalists, was an expert witness through a video transmission, and there were presented written testimonies by experts Germán Rey, researcher and historian; Pedro Vaca, lawyer and director of the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP); Gullermo Puyana, lawyer, and Diana Calderón, investigative journalist

WHEREAS 13 national press associations of the Americas, the IFEX network made up of 115 organizations of 70 countries, Mexico's National Human Rights Commission sent three amicus curiae to the IACHR Court in support of the case, the signatory regional organizations were the Colombian Association of Newspaper Editors and Publishers (Andiarios); Association of Argentine Press Entities (Adepa); International Radio Broadcasting Association (AIR); National Press Association (ANP) of Bolivia; National Press Association (ANP) of Chile; Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji); Peruvian Press Council (CPP); Argentine Journalism Forum (Fopea); Journalists' Forum for Freedom of Expression and of Information, Panama; Andes Foundation for the Observation and Study of Media (Fundamedios), Ecuador; Gabriel García Márquez Foundation for the New Ibero-American Journalism (FNPI); Freedom of Expression and Democracy Foundation (Fundación LED), Argentina, and Press and Society Institute (IPYS), Peru

WHEREAS the Carvajal Carvajal case runs the risk of the criminal action becoming subject to statute of limitations in Colombia in April 2018, 20 years after the murder, sending a message that there are no consequences for killing journalists

WHEREAS the hearing at the IACHR Court was presided over by Judges Eduardo Ferrer Mac-Gregor Poisot of Mexico, Patricio Pazmiño Freire of Ecuador, Elizabeth Odio Benito of Costa Rica, Eugenio Raúl Zaffaroni of Argentina and Eduardo Vio Grossi of Chile, who were accompanied by IACHR Court secretary Pablo Saavedra Alessandri of Chile and assistant secretary Emilia Segares Rodríguez of Costa Rica

WHEREAS the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has been fundamental for the investigation of this and other unpunished cases of murder of journalists in the Americas

WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapulgtepec establishes: "Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, 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"


to express the IAPA's confidence that the ruling of the IACHR Court judges, envisioned for early 2018, will recompense the family members and encourage the creation of public policies tending to combat violence and impunity

to urge the government of Colombia to take the necessary measures for the statute of limitations not to be an obstacle so that the criminal investigation leads to the identification, judgment and punishment of the perpetrators and masterminds of the murder

to thank the Carvajal Carvajal famjly for its confidence in the IAPA to continue with the case before the IACHR and the IACHR Court, as well as the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation for carrying out the investigation, to RFK Human Rights for its dedication as joint legal representative, and to the experts, press and human rights organizations that provided their knowledge to strengthen the case before the court.