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"Wasted years and little progress made": impunity still prevails in crimes against journalists, says FLIP

(FLIP/IFEX) - The following is a FLIP press release:

Impunity still prevails in crimes against journalists

Wasted years and little progress made. This is how one could summarize the results of the justice system's investigations into press freedom violations in Colombia, especially in cases where journalists have been murdered. Far from setting precedents on the importance of protecting the fundamental rights to access information and to express one's opinion in Colombia, the statistics present a discouraging panorama.

Of 98 documented cases of journalists murdered between 1992 and 2006, 22 investigations have not gone beyond the preliminary stage, while six have been suspended due to procedural errors or terminated due to lack of evidence. Sentences have yet to be handed down in two cases for which investigations began in 1999 and ended in 2002; six verdicts acquitted the suspects and three resulted in convictions: two for the actual murderers and only one for the mastermind behind a killing. In 61 per cent of these cases, the authorities have not released information on the investigations.

Investigations into violations other than murder have produced absolutely no results.

Press freedom violations with less social impact than homicide, but which have an equally chilling effect on media, pass unnoticed.

Violations on the increase, such as threats against journalists, remain completely unpunished.

Faced with this reality, armed groups, criminal gangs and even public officials issue threatening messages, send threatening e-mails and give macabre "gifts" to subtly silence journalists. It is clear that they will face no legal repercussions for these acts.

Today, 3 May 2007, World Press Freedom Day, FLIP is issuing a report on this topic. To read the full report (in Spanish), go to: http://www.flip.org.co/index.php

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