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Journalist in Cartago repeatedly threatened

(FLIP/IFEX) - Luis Fernando Gil, the editor of the "Hora 13" news programme broadcast by the local CNC television station in Cartago, in the department of Valle del Cauca, Western Colombia, has been repeatedly threatened since February 2009.

On 19 February, Gil invited members of the Cartago civic committee to appear on his programme. At the time, the civic committee was organising a protest march against a possible tax hike by the local municipal administration. After the broadcast of the programme, several people called the television station to give their opinion for or against the protest. One of the calls was made directly to Gil's mobile telephone and came from a private number that could not be traced. The caller told Gil he had been declared a military target and said that he would die if he continued to support protest marches.

The following day, Gil was approached by an unidentified individual who told him to refrain from meddling in the affairs of Cartago's mayor, Germán González Osorio. The journalist filed complaints about these and other similar incidents with the authorities. He also informed the mayor of what was happening.

The threats, however, continued. On 13 May, Gil received a message in his office with new threats. Subsequently, on 18 July, he received a telephone call in which he was once again threatened and was informed that the caller knew about the protective measures being provided to him by the Ministry of the Interior's Journalist's Protection Programme.

Néstor Romero, the commander of the Valle del Cauca Police Department's Sixth Division, told FLIP that the police are aware of the threats against Gil and that they have made a number of different protective measures available to him. FLIP attempted without success to contact Mayor González.

FLIP sources in the department of Valle del Cauca believe that level of risk faced by Gil is very high, not only because of the type of threats he has received but also because there are serious problems in Cartago due to the presence of groups with links to drug trafficking. In the last five years, two journalists in the area have been assassinated.

FLIP is concerned about the repeated threats against Gil and calls on the authorities to provide the security measures promised to the journalist in the most effective manner possible. The organisation also calls on the National Attorney General's Office to determine who is responsible for the threats.

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