The IAPA is concerned about judicial harassment against journalists from Volcánicas in Colombia


Miami (February 20, 2024) – The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern over the use of civil and criminal lawsuits against two journalists from the Colombian digital media Volcánicas, with the alleged intention of obstructing journalistic investigations of public interest.

The founding journalists of Volcánicas, Catalina Ruiz-Navarro and Matilde de los Milagros Londoño Jaramillo, published an investigation in June 2020 that collected anonymous complaints from nine women against a well-known Colombian film director, Ciro Guerra.

They accuse him of alleged harassment and sexual abuse occurring between 2013 and 2019, according to press reports.

Guerra filed various legal actions, including a civil and a criminal lawsuit, in which he requested a substantial compensation from the journalists, amounting to one million dollars for alleged damages and harm to his name and public image, as reported by the Colombian press.

Between November 2020 and 2022, the case went through different legal instances and rulings – in favor of the journalists or the complainant. However, by the end of 2022, the T-452 judgment of the Constitutional Court recognized that the journalists met constitutional standards of truthfulness, impartiality, and journalistic due diligence. They did not violate the rights of the filmmaker but presented a "report of public interest" that distinguished "between the victims' accounts and their opinion."

IAPA President Roberto Rock expressed that "judicial harassment is a resource used to affect journalistic work and discourage uncomfortable investigations."

The President of the Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, added that "the protracted legal proceedings against the journalists by a public figure, still unresolved, require a significant economic investment by the defendants, in addition to an evident psychological burden." Martha Ramos, head of the of the IAPA Commission on Gender Equity and Diversity, stated that "Volcánicas gave voice to women who lack a space to denounce and defend themselves, and that is undoubtedly the DNA of journalism."

Ruiz-Navarro and Londoño Jaramillo also face a civil liability lawsuit filed by Guerra on January 26, 2021, seeking a million-dollar compensation, the removal of the report, and a request for the journalists to refrain from making any other type of publication about him in the future.

Within the same process, the journalists countersued Guerra, seeking compensation for damages to their mental and physical health caused by the legal harassment. The initial hearing for the case is scheduled for March 4.

Another legal action for the alleged crime of slander, filed by Guerra in July 2020 against the journalists, is also under investigation.

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.