03 August 2018

IAPA condemns murder of journalist in Colombia

and expresses its support for Colombian organizations that are denouncing a growing wave of acts against journalists' physical and moral integrity

MIAMI, Florida (August 3, 2018)—The murder of broadcast journalist Valentín Rúa Tezada in southwestern Colombia was denounced today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) as a "setback" in the protection of the practice of journalism in that country, and at the same time the organization called on the authorities to investigate "swiftly and transparently" so as to bring those responsible to justice and prevent the crime going unpunished.

"We cannot allow the progress towards institutionalization in Colombia to be seen as stained by this kind of violence against the press," declared the chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, editor of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota.

Rúa Tezada died yesterday, Thursday, evening as the result of a bullet wound, according to officials of the municipality of Suárez in the Colombian province of Cauca, where he worked as a radio announcer with the broadcast station Salvajina Estéreo.

His colleagues said that he had been working for 15 years at the radio station and that he was dedicated to disseminating community issues and the needs of the local population. It is not known if he had received death threats.

"We call for a swift and transparent investigation because we know that in several parts of Colombia there exists an atmosphere of insecurity for the work of journalists that yes have reported threats against them," Rock said.

Pronouncements by authorities and press organizations

IAPA President Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, expressed his backing to the Colombian News Media Association (AMI) and the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) which denounced several threats against journalists as part of "an attempt to limit the exercise of press freedom and the right to information."

"We share 100 per cent the concern of our Colombian colleagues regarding the new wave of threats to press freedom. We can assure them that in the IAPA we shall remain vigilant and supportive," Mohme said.

A document signed by several officials of the Colombian government, as a result of the concern expressed by the press organizations, rejected the violence against the Colombian press and expressed a commitment to reinforce the guarantees for the free practice of journalism.

The document was issued amid what is regarded as an increase in the climate of hostility towards the practice of journalism in Colombia and can be read in its totality at goo.gl/BR8CEG