Journalists Targeted in Paramilitary Threats
News from Colombia |
on: Monday, 28 February 2011
On the 15th of February five Colombian journalists, along with two human rights organisations, received emailed death threats from the paramilitary group, ‘Black Eagles Central Command’. The targeted journalists include Claudia Duque, an honorary member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Eduardo Marquez, the President of the Colombian Federation of Journalists.
Hollman Morris, Daniel Coronell, Marcos Perales Mendoza, Claudia Julieta Duque and Eduardo Marquez were sent an email from a gmail account which read “the time has come to exterminate and eliminate all those people that pretend to defend human rights” and accused them of being ‘demobilised’ guerrillas.
The threats were condemned by the NUJ, whose President, Jeremy Dear said “The violent threats to journalists in Colombia are vicious and abhorrent. The individuals and organisations involved in these attacks and repressive actions should be brought to justice. We will not accept the situation where human rights violators continue to enjoy immunity in an atmosphere of severe human rights abuses, intimidation and death.”
The threats form part of a policy of stigmatisation of human rights defenders and critics of the government. Last month Former President Alvaro Uribe Velez insulted Coronell on Twitter calling him a "Journalist mafioso" adding that thanks to his government, Daniel Coronell had 4 bodyguards and an armoured vehicle. Coronell replied, also on Twitter, that Uribe was putting him at risk by exposing the specifics of his protection measures. He clarified that he was granted 2 bodyguards as protection by President Pastrana (previous to Uribe) after receiving death threats. The threats came after Coronell reported that planes found in 1990 on the ranch of drug trafficker Pablo Escobar had received flying licenses issued by then Director of Aeronautics, Alvaro Uribe Velez. More recently, Coronell has been exposing the scandal of the illegal surveillance and persecution against journalists, magistrates, members of the opposition and human rights defenders carried out by the Colombian secret police (DAS).
Despite claims by the Colombian regime that freedom of expression does exist in the country, the situation for journalists, particularly those critical of the regime’s policies, remains highly dangerous. During 2010 seven Colombian journalists were killed.