OAS human rights body condemns murder of Colombia journalist

Posted on Aug 15 2014 - 12:53pm by Today News
CIDH (Photo: AFP)

An international governing body is urging Colombian authorities to seek justice for the Colombian journalist gunned down near his home on Tuesday.

In a statement released Thursday, the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called on the government “to act promptly and timely to clarify the reasons for the crime and implement all legal instruments to identify and punish those responsible.”

The statement, composed by the IACHR’s special rapporteur for freedom of expression, quotes directly from the IACHR human rights charter. “The murder, kidnapping, intimidation, or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression,” reads the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression.

MORE: Justice elusive for 88% of kidnapped, tortured, murdered Colombia journalists

“Namely, it is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators, and to ensure that victims receive due compensation,” it reads.

The case

Carlos Cervantes had been receiving death threats for years before being gunned down Tuesday on his way to pick up his son from school in the village of Taraza, in the northwestern state of Antioquia

MORE: Colombia journalist gunned down after years of death threats 

As recently as two weeks prior to his murder, Cervantes had been warned to leave town by a man identified only by his alias, “Morroco.”

The state’s National Protection Unit, which had provided Cervantes with a personal security detail since 2012, called off its protection services in late July, supposedly because Cervantes was no longer an active journalist, and thus no longer under immediate threat. 

Cervantes, however, even having switched to a less risky career as a radio disk jockey, still believed his life was in danger. He had previously claimed on numerous occassions that the local city government was conspiring to have him killed, because of his work investigating corruption within the Mayor’s Office.

Stalled cases

The Inter-American Human Rights Council has been active in investigating cases of violence against journalists in Colombia recently.

Earlier this month, it accepted a lawsuit against the Colombian government filed by Jineth Bedoya, who was kidnapped and tortured by paramilitary forces while investigating cases of arms trafficking, disappearances, and homicides in 2000.

The criminal investigation into her case has been stalled for 14 years within the Colombian justice system.

Another investigation from the same time period, the shooting death of journalist Jaime Garzon Forero, has also failed to produce results, said the Colombian Commission of Jurors on the Wednesday anniversary of his death.

The commission stated that the prosecution has been hampered by criminal acts, including “deliberate diversion” by former government officials linked to the murder. Jorge Eliecer Plazas, the ex-colonel accused of plotting the murder, was captured July 31 after a one-year search. 

MORE: Key suspect in Jaime Garzon murder case captured in central Colombia

Since 1992, at least 41 Colombian journalists have been killed in direct reprisal for their work, the majority of whom were investigating corruption.


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