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In 2008, there were no job-related murders of journalists in Colombia, and press freedom violations decreased by 20 per cent, says a new report by the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP). But impunity for crimes against journalists and threats levelled against the media remain cause for concern, said FLIP.

FLIP recorded 130 violations last year, compared to 162 violations in 2007. None of them included murders of journalists, "a fact worth emphasising in a country like Colombia, where more than 130 journalists have been killed in the past 30 years," FLIP said. But despite the good news, official investigations into crimes committed in previous years have made very little progress.

And although the number of threats also decreased, they remain the main kind of press freedom violation and "the most effective mechanism to curtail the spread of information and prevent certain issues from coming into the public light," said FLIP.

FLIP said that besides the direct threats, forms of indirect censorship became apparent last year: the arbitrary distribution of state advertising to serve political objectives and the restriction of access to public information. Each of these subjects makes up a chapter of the report.

FLIP also analysed the government's Protection of Journalists Programme, focusing on a recent, positive Constitutional Court ruling that says that the government cannot take measures to restrict a journalist's right to free expression or information as a result of its obligation to provide the journalist with protection.

FLIP launched the report on 9 February, Colombia's National Day of the Journalist. Download an abstract of "Threat and stigmatisation: Invisible intimidation of the press" here:

Download the complete report (Spanish only) here:

(11 February 2009)

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