Seventh journalist forced to flee since start of the year, two others threatened by suspected paramilitaries

first_img April 27, 2021 Find out more Reporters Without Borders today said it was devastated to learn that Otoniel Sánchez, a journalist working for local TV station CNC in the southwestern city of Cartago, was forced to flee the city after an attack on his home on 19 October. The press freedom organisation also condemned repeated attempts by a group of suspected paramilitaries known as the “Black Eagles” to intimidate journalists Vanny Johann Sierra Mójica of the Hoy Diario de Magdalena newspaper and Camilo Munive of Radio Galeón in the northern Santa Marta area in the past month.“The situation of these journalists unfortunately reflects that of all the local press in Colombia, which has to censor itself if it wants to survive and keep on working,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We voice our full support for these three journalists and we urge the authorities to protect them.”The organisation added: “Those who investigate the threats against Sánchez should take a look at the Cartago municipal government. As for the ‘Black Eagles,’ they must be quickly dismantled and their members must be punished. And the demobilisation of Colombia’s paramilitaries must be accompanied by effective disarmament.”According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), gunmen fired on Sánchez’s home in Cartago at 2 a.m. on 19 October after he reported mismanagement at the municipal ice rink. Sánchez told the FLIP he had repeatedly received threatening phone calls. “We are tired of your comments,” a caller said on one occasion.The night before the shooting attack, Sánchez received an anonymous phone call in which he was asked if he had received the package sent to his office. In fact, Sánchez’s colleagues returned the package to the delivery company fearing it might be a parcel bomb. It was finally opened by police bomb disposal experts, who found three 9 mm bullets inside, the same calibre as those fired at his home. There was also a message inside the package that said: “You journalists think the bullet won’t hit you but you are completely wrong. Or have you forgotten what happened to Polanco, of the same TV station?” CNC news director Oscar Polanco was murdered in Cartago on 4 February 2004. Cartago-based radio journalist Candela Estéreo meanwhile received a parcel bomb on 3 October which fortunately did not go off.Sánchez is the seventh journalist to have to flee the region where they work in Colombia since the start of the year. Exactly when he left Cartago and where he has gone is being kept secret.In Ciénaga, 30 km outside Santa Marta, Sierra has received four letters and Munive has received 10 phone calls in the past month telling them to shut up and leave the town where they both work as local correspondents. They told Reporters Without Borders the harassment began after they reported an increase in the local murder rate a month ago. The messages are signed “Black Eagles,” who are assumed to be a local paramilitary group. Several demobilised paramilitaries were arrested and questioned by the police as part of their initial investigation into the threats. Ciénaga is currently home to about 180 former members of the right-wing paramilitary groups that used to combat the left-wing guerrillas. These groups have been demobilised and are now the recipients of government-run social reintegration programmes.The local police chief told Reporters Without Borders he checked the activities of the demobilised paramilitaries every month but acknowledged that some of them had “not followed the path they were supposed to take in the reintegration process.” At the same time, the threats against the two journalists could also have come from ordinary criminals.Munive has been given police protection after filing a complaint, but Sierra did not follow suit, fearing that it might only expose him to greater danger. October 25, 2006 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Seventh journalist forced to flee since start of the year, two others threatened by suspected paramilitaries Receive email alerts News RSF, IFEX-ALC and Media Defence, support FLIP and journalist Diana Díaz against state harassment in Colombia ColombiaAmericas ColombiaAmericas Follow the news on Colombia RSF_en Reportscenter_img October 21, 2020 Find out more Organisation May 13, 2021 Find out more Help by sharing this information RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America to go further News 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies Newslast_img read more

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Victims Outraged with FARC Claim They Don’t Have Hostages

first_img Relatives of victims of the armed conflict in Colombia were outraged on September 6, at the claim by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that they no longer have hostages in their possession, and they requested a place at the table of peace negotiations between the guerrillas and the government, which will be established in October in Oslo. Dozens of relatives of the abductees and missing assembled on September 6 in Bogotá’s Plaza Bolivar to have their position on the start of a peace process between the communist armed organization and the government of Juan Manuel Santos known. They asked the government for “two famiy members of the kidnapped and two family members of the missing to attend the dialogues as thematic participants” pointed out a statement from the association “The Missing,” read by Colombian journalist Herbin Hoyos. Maria Elena Gálvez, who is seeking information regarding the whereabouts of her father, kidnapped in 1991, asserted to AFP that someone who suffers these crimes “must be present”. The families demanded that the investigation of all their cases be the first item on the agenda that the government and the FARC discuss. They also considered it “unacceptable” that the FARC delegates assured in a news conference in Havana, that a query with all battlefronts concluded that they do not have any captives. “Then where are all the kidnapped and missing people we were fighting for?” Gálvez asked in amazement. In the press conference, the guerrilla commanders hinted that abductions committed by other groups were wrongly attributed to them. The NGO País Libre, which provides help to the families of the hostages, has documented 405 cases of people that would be held by the FARC, but asked the government to disseminate official figures on the kidnapped and missing people, which some organizations say are in the thousands. The FARC announced they were relinquishing the act of kidnapping civilians for extortive purposes in February, and in April, they released the last 10 police and military captives that they said they had. By Dialogo September 10, 2012last_img read more

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