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IAPA submits two cases of unpunished murders of journalists to IACHR

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, December 6, 2011 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) a formal denunciation of the unpunished murders of Colombian journalists whose cases became subject to a statute of limitations this year.

The cases refer to the murders of Julio Chaparro and Jorge Torres that have not been solved by the Colombian authorities in the 20 years since they were committed.

Chaparro, a 29-year-old reporter, and Torres, a news photographer aged 39, were killed on April 24, 1991 in Segovia, a town in the Colombian province of Antioquia, where they had been sent by their newspaper, El Espectador of Bogotá, to cover the consequences of a massacre there two years earlier, in which 43 people died.

Results of investigations carried out by the IAPA's Rapid Response Unit in Colombia were presented to the IACHR on December 2 this year with the objective that the inter-American system urge the Colombian government to put an end to the impunity surrounding these crimes. The cases became subject to a statute of limitations on reaching the legal limit of 20 years. A recent reform lengthened the term to 30 years, but it is not retroactive.

The chairman of the IAPA's Impunity Committee, Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, declared, "We trust that with the intervention of the IACHR there will be a good dialogue, so as to do to justice to the victims, their family members and colleagues". Ealy Ortiz, president of the Mexico City, Mexico, newspaper El Universal, added that the solving of these cases "would set an important precedent for no other crime in Colombia to remain unpunished."

The IAPA believes that in both cases there were violations of Article 4 (right to life), 5 (right to personal integrity), 8 (legal guarantees), 13 (right to freedom of thought and expression) and 25 (right to legal protection) of the American Convention on Human Rights. The IAPA stance, in addition, was that fundamental guarantees to the victims' families and colleagues were also violated when they were denied the right to learn the truth and have assurances that justice would be done.

Since 1997 the IAPA has submitted to the IACHR 29 cases of unpunished murders of journalists committed in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay. To date the IACHR has admitted 12 of these cases and has asked the IAPA for further documentation and evidence in another 10 cases.

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