IAPA pledges to seek justice in the case of murdered Ecuadorean journalists

The recovery of the victims' bodies will enable closure of a mourning of anguish and uncertainty.

MIAMI, Florida (June 28, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) "will not cease in the quest for justice" in the murders of press workers of the Ecuadorean newspaper El Comercio, declared today the organization's president, Gustavo Mohme, in letters of condolence sent to the families.

"Our commitment is that the IAPA will continue fighting for justice in the hope of fully solving the case and those responsible having to face justice," said Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, in his note to the families of Javier Ortega, Paúl Rivas and Efraín Segarra.

Last week the Colombian Army found the bodies of Ortega, Rivas and Segarra in Tumaco province, near the border with Ecuador. The members of the El Comercio team were kidnapped on March 26 in the Mataje region of Esmeraldas province, to the north of Ecuador and on the border with Colombia, by a FARC dissident group led by Walter Arízala, A.K.A. Guacho, which went on to kill them.

Ortega, a 32-year-old journalist, Rivas, a 45-year-old news photographer, and Segarra, a 60-year-old driver, had traveled to that part of the country to cover the increase in violence on the border of the two countries.

The IAPA president stressed the importance of the victims' bodies having been recovered because "this will enable closure of a mourning of anguish and uncertainty." He added that the legacy of Ortega, Rivas and Segarra, whose funeral will be held on June 29 in Quito, "will remain eternally in the memory of their families and the press of the Americas."

Last month an IAPA delegation met in the El Comercio plant in Quito with family members of the murdered workers. On that occasion the IAPA also held a meeting with Ecuadorean President Lenín Moreno, to whom it urged to continue working with his Colombian counterpart, President Juan Manuel Santos, to go on investigating the crime and bringing the murderers to justice.

While the IAPA was holding a half-year meeting in the Colombian city of Medellín on April 13 there was confirmed the murder of Ortega, Rivas and Segarra. Journalists and media representatives of Ecuador and Colombia who were attending condemned the atrocious crime and in May with the participation of press associations of both countries announced in Quito the launch of a humanitarian campaign for the recovery of the bodies and the review of various models of collaboration in matters of security and the work of journalists.

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.