IAPA condemns attack against journalist in Venezuela and calls for an expedited investigation

Attack and attempted kidnapping against Venezuelan photojournalist Jamel Louka

Miami (December 8, 2020).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) condemned the attack and attempted kidnapping against Venezuelan photojournalist Jamel Louka, and urged the authorities to carry out an expedited investigation into the attack, which adds to numerous violations of freedom of the press in the country.

Louka, a photojournalist for the Guárico state newspaper La Antena, was the victim of an attack on December 2 in the city of Altagracia de Orituco. The journalist had been threatened and was about to leave the city with his family when around five in the morning, four armed individuals waiting outside his home tried to kidnap him. Louka managed to escape but when he was chased he was shot several times and an explosive device was thrown at him. He is out of danger, although he was wounded in the face, left shoulder, and right arm.

The president of the IAPA, Jorge Canahuati, condemned the attack and urged the authorities to fulfill their duty to "investigate as soon as possible, point out, and prosecute those responsible for this serious act of violence." Canahuati, president of Grupo OPSA, from Honduras, added, "it is the responsibility of the State to guarantee the physical safety of the journalist and his family."

The Chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, warned, "The IAPA observes with great concern the increase in physical attacks, threats, and persecution against journalists in Venezuela." Jornet, director of the newspaper La Voz del Interior, Argentina, stated that "to this situation, it must be added that the complaints of acts of violence are treated with total negligence by the Venezuelan justice or are ignored, which leaves the independent journalism activity totally defenseless and under risk".

The day before the attack, unknown persons went to Louka's home and warned him, through his wife and son, to stop "sticking his nose" where he should not, according to what he told to reporters of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). He had also received threatening messages on his phone. In 2016, he suffered another attack from which he escaped unharmed. Louka is also a contributor to the El Pitazo news portal.

In this October's IAPA report and its corresponding resolution, the increase in violations of press freedom in 2020 can be observed.

IAPA is a non-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 the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.