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Call on Colombia to reaffirm its commitment to justice for murdered journalists

Join IFEX in calling on the Colombian government to submit information on the status of investigations into the slaying of 16 journalists that have occurred in the country since 2006 for inclusion in the 2016 UNESCO Director General's Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos speaks on the podium during a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos speaks on the podium during a panel discussion at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, Thursday, May 12, 2016.

Frank Augstein/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Why is the report important?

The biennial Director-General's Report on the Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity is a means for states to demonstrate their commitment to addressing crimes against journalists and media workers by providing detailed information on the steps being taken to achieve justice and end impunity for killings that have occurred in their country.

Participation by Colombia and all other states is voluntary, and pressure from civil society and the public is crucial for ensuring that they leverage the opportunity to live up to their responsibility to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information, and promote accountability for the worst forms of its suppression. If states provide the information that is needed, it also has the potential for building a global repertoire of best legal practices and can be used as an educational and advocacy tool.

Why should Colombia participate in the report?

Between 2006 and 2015, 16 killings of journalists in Colombia condemned by the Director General have gone unsolved. The Colombian Government has an opportunity to demonstrate its seriousness about finding and prosecuting the perpetrators by responding to the 2016 Director-General's request for information on these cases.

The Colombian government has been forthcoming with this information in previous years, but has yet to provide updated information upon UNESCO's most recent request.

What you can do:

Join us in calling on the government of Colombia to respond to the Director-General in a timely and transparent manner by 15 June 2016 to ensure this information appears in the 2016 report to be published this October.

Send an email to the relevant Colombian officials by completing the fields in the yellow action box above.

For more information see:
http://www.ifex.org/noimpunity
http://www.unesco.org/en/safetyofjournalists



The letter


TO:
President Juan Manuel Santos
Office of the President
Calle 7 No. 6-54
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia

CC:
Eduardo Montealegre Lynett
Attorney General
Diagonal 22B 52-01
(Ciudad Salitre)
Bogotá, D.C., Colombia

Permanent Delegation of Colombia to UNESCO
Maison de l'UNESCO
Bureau M4.30
1, Rue Miollis
75732 Paris Cedex 15

Hon. Ms. Da. Maria Angela Holguin
Foreign Ministry
Calle 10 No. 5-51
Bogota ,Colombia

25 May 2016

Your Excellency,

As an individual concerned with freedom of expression and the issue of impunity in Colombia, I am writing to encourage the Colombian Government to submit a response to the UNESCO Director General’s upcoming 2016 report on The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity, and to grant permission to make these responses publicly available.

I understand that the Colombian government has responded in a timely fashion in past years, and strongly encourage the government to follow suit in order to reaffirm its commitment to freedom of expression and the protection of journalists.

The biennial Director-General’s report was commissioned by the International Programme for the Development of Communications (IPDC) as a means for States to demonstrate their commitment to addressing crimes against journalists and media workers by providing detailed information on the steps being taken to achieve justice and end impunity.

Since 2006, more than 700 killings of journalists and media workers have occurred worldwide. In over 90% of these cases, the perpetrators have gone unpunished. This type of extreme unchecked violence is the ultimate form of censorship and severely curtails the flow of information necessary for a peaceful, prosperous and democratic society to flourish.

The culture of impunity that has developed around this issue only makes it more likely that such crimes will continue to occur. For this reason, the issue of impunity for killings of journalists is one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression and information worldwide.

In the spirit of the National Day of Dignity for Female Victims of Sexual Violence held on 25 May 2016 and in commemoration of Colombian journalist Jineth Bedoya’s courageous quest for justice following her kidnapping, sexual assault and torture nearly 16 years ago, I call on the Colombian government to return to form and demonstrate its leadership and accountability by submitting its response for the 2016 report in a timely and transparent manner.

To ensure that your efforts are documented in this year’s report, it is important that you provide the relevant information to UNESCO before 15 June 2016. In so doing, you will be helping to improve political will to address violence, building a global repertoire of best legal practices, and demonstrating that attacks on freedom of expression in Colombia will not be tolerated.

I look forward to your response to this letter and to seeing updated information on the cases mentioned above made public on the UNESCO website. For more information visit:

http://www.ifex.org/noimpunity
http://www.unesco.org/en/safetyofjournalists

Best Regards.

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