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IFJ backs silent march to denounce threats against journalists

(IFJ/IFEX) - 3 May 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today backed the appeal of its affiliate in Colombia, the Federación Colombiana de Periodistas (FECOLPER) for a silent march throughout the country on World Press Freedom Day to denounce continuing threats against journalists and to call on the government to provide protection.

The appeal followed recent threats made against FECOLPER President Eduardo Márquez, and other journalists who were targeted by the Black Eagles, an armed paramilitary group in Colombia.

"We support the march which is both a message of defiance to those who threaten journalists and a reminder of the Colombian government's duty to protect our colleagues," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "All journalists' organisations in Colombia are determined to lift the shadow of terror on journalists and this action and more to follow will ensure the authorities' indifference in the face of danger to journalists is no longer an option."

The FECOLPER said in a statement that the decision to stage a silent march on World Press Freedom Day was taken during its extraordinary assembly held in the Colombian city of Barranquilla. The march which will take place across the country tomorrow and bring together all affiliates of FECOLPER aims to press the government and security services on protection measures for journalists under threat in order to guarantee their right to work in safety.

According to the statement, threats were made recently against FECOLPER and its President Eduardo Márquez along with a group of other prominent journalists, including Claudia Julieta Duque, Hollman Morris, Daniel Coronell and Marcos Perales Mendoza who have been declared by the Black Eagles group as legitimate targets.

FECOLPER also revealed that another journalist, Hernando Lozano Ávila, who works for Telecaribe TV in the city of Barranqilla received threats last week on his telephone from a man who told him he was about to be killed because of his reporting.

The IFJ says that the poor record of Colombian authorities in fighting impunity for violence and intimidation against media contributes to the recent resurgence of threats and risks to return the country back to its past as a killing field for journalists.

"The respite for our colleagues in Colombia is likely to be short lived unless drastic measures are taken to confront media predators," said Elisabeth Costa, IFJ General Secretary. "This has to be resisted and we commend our colleagues for leading the fight back for their safety and freedoms. We support them wholeheartedly."

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