Bogotá / Miami / Washington, DC, March 23, 2018 - Only a month away of the statute of limitations to apply to the murder of Colombian journalist Nelson Carvajal, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights and the foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP for its initials in Spanish) presented on March 21 a request to Nestor Humberto Martinez, Attorney General of Colombia, to declare the murder a crime against humanity.
Carvajal's murder is an emblematic case that indicates the breach of the international duties of the Colombian State to prevent violence against journalists and to judge and punish those responsible. It also illustrates the widespread impunity for crimes against freedom of expression in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Carvajal was a radio journalist in Pitalito, Huila. He was the director of the news program 'Regional Moment' and of the radio-magazines 'Mirador de la Semana', 'Amanecer en el Campo' and 'Tribuna Médica' of the Radio Sur Broadcaster, in that municipality. He reported irregularities in public administration, corruption and money laundering from drug trafficking. He was killed on April 16, 1998 by a hitman who shot him seven times when Carvajal was leaving Los Pinos school, where he was director.
The murder of the journalist took place in one of the most violent periods against the press in Colombia, in a context of widespread attacks against journalists from criminal structures that included local authorities, paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug traffickers. According to the criminal investigation, the crime was committed by an alliance that allegedly involved officials, businessmen and members of the FARC guerrilla.
For the IAPA, RFK Human Rights and FLIP, the homicide of Carvajal is part of a systematic and widespread attack against a sector of the civilian population that was perpetrated by state actors and organized crime structures and armed groups.
During the process, members of the Carvajal family have been victims of threats and many had to go into exile. Witnesses were also killed and several prosecutors left the case after receiving threats. Other legal proceedings associated with the death of Carvajal were filed prematurely.
In 2002, the case was presented by the IAPA to the Inter-American Human Rights System. The case was referred in 2015 to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and that same year the RFK Human Rights joined the legal representation of the family in the litigation against the Colombian state. The Court has already deliberated on the case and a final decision is expected in the coming weeks.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.