The IAPA Condemns Threat Against Journalist in Colombia

Calls on the State to safeguard electoral processes.

Miami (September 8, 2023) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has condemned the threat against journalist Estefanía Colmenares in Colombia. The organization called on authorities to ensure the safety of journalists during the country's ongoing regional electoral process.

On September 6, Estefanía Colmenares, the director of La Opinión in the city of Cúcuta, Norte de Santander department, received a threatening message via WhatsApp declaring her a "military target" and warning that "her head has a price." Through social media X, Colmenares stated that she is unaware of the motive behind the threat and reiterated her "commitment to journalism, to the truth, and to investigations that can combat corruption."

Michael Greenspon, President of IAPA, expressed solidarity with the journalist and her colleagues at the newspaper. "We reject violence and intimidation against the press and urge the authorities to ensure the security of media personnel during their duties, especially in an electoral turmoil process," added Greenspon, Global Head of Licensing and Print Innovation for The New York Times.

The Prosecutor's Office initiated an investigation to determine the source of the threat, which occurred following the newspaper's recent coverage of alleged irregularities surrounding the hospitalization of former Cúcuta Mayor Ramiro Suárez Corzo, who is serving a 27-year prison sentence for homicide and is allegedly directing several political campaigns from the hospital.

Colmenares has been leading the newspaper for five years, and this is the first time she has received a threat, according to La Opinión.

Carlos Jornet, the president of the IAPA's Committee on Press Freedom and Information and the editor of La Voz del Interior in Argentina, added: "While the risks of attacks increase during electoral periods, which journalists and media must anticipate to minimize them, authorities are obliged to promptly and effectively address the complaints."

Greenspon and Jornet urged authorities to swiftly investigate the motive behind the threat, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice.

IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.