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Journalists in Montelíbano, Córdoba, receive death threats in lead up to referendum

(FLIP/IFEX) - 16 October 2009 - Several journalists in Montelíbano, Córdoba department, on Colombia's northern coast, have received death threats associated with a campaign calling for Mayor Édinson Rangel Aguas to step down from his position. The referendum will be held on 18 October 2009 and the situation for the journalists in the area is critical.

Intimidation tactics against the journalists via threatening phone calls began in June 2008. Subsequently, the threats turned into visits by unidentified individuals during which the journalists were given a specific time frame within which to leave the region.

FLIP and Media for Peace (Medios para la Paz) visited the area and observed the tense situation of the journalists in the lead up to the referendum. Several of the local journalists have supported the call for the mayor to step down and they fear that if the mayor loses in the referendum they will immediately suffer reprisals.

FLIP personnel contacted Montelíbano Police Commander Alfredo Blandón and were told that as of the weekend of 10 October 2009 more police officers were brought to Montelíbano from other municipalities with the objective of strengthening security during the referendum. He also said that the army was undertaking activities in the area.

Blandón said that he had not received any complaints about threats from journalists that would warrant special security measures. FLIP, however, is aware that one of the threatened journalists filed a complaint with the police in the last week of September.

FLIP personnel attempted unsuccessfully to communicate with Mayor Rangel Aguas.

FLIP is concerned over the threats and urges the National Police to provide effective security measures to journalists in Montelíbano before, during and after the referendum. The organisation also calls on the National Attorney General's Office to conduct investigations and find those responsible for the threats.

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Human Rights Journalists (HRJ) is deeply concerned at the increasing acts of intimidation and threats against journ… https://t.co/bJTJFd5dg0