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Guerrilla group threatens journalists it abducted last May

The following is a translation of a statement that was originally published on flip.org.co on 11 July 2016.

This past Friday, 8 July, journalists Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo received a threat via a text message that was sent to one of their phones. The message indicated that it had been sent by the ELN (National Liberation Army) and declared the journalists to be a military target. Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo were kidnapped by the ELN from 23 to 27 May in the Catatumbo region. The threatening text message they received is being considered retaliation for the fact that the journalists told the police who had kidnapped them.

FLIP condemns this threat and laments the passive attitude of the authorities in dealing with this danger. The National Protection Unit (UNP) have known about this threat since the night of Saturday 9 July, and yet there has been no news of any increased safety protections for the journalists. Enough time has passed for the UNP to act. At the moment, D'Pablos and Melo are being supplied protection by the Ministry of Defense, while the UNP makes a decision.

The UNP has provided emergency security measures for the journalists since they were released in May, however the scheme was modified at a later date. At the time, FLIP underlined the problem of trying to balance the protection being offered to both journalists, at the expense of either of them. They were continuing to work in an area where ELN was present, but no risk analysis had been carried out.

The Federal Attorney General has not presented any updates in the investigations into their kidnapping. Impunity has created a climate of leniency towards violent actions and censorship, as demonstrated by this latest threatening message sent to these RCN TV journalists.

Since the abduction, the Inter Americas Comission on Human Rights has been considering a petition for these journalists to receive Precautionary Measures. This latest threat has highlighted the urgent need for a decision in this case.

FLIP calls on authorities to guarantee protection for the journalists and to increase investigation efforts and judicial penalties for these crimes to diffuse the risk to the journalists.

The harassment suffered by Diego D'Pablos and Carlos Melo is a violation of the freedom of the press that started with their abduction and worsens with this latest threat.

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