Reporters Without Borders condemns the young journalist Yonni Steven Caicedo’s fatal shooting by two gunmen in Buenaventura, in the southwestern department of Valle del Cauca, on 19 February.
The Press Freedom Foundation (FLIP), a Colombian NGO, reported in a press release that Caicedo worked as a cameraman with local TV stations TV Noticias and Más Noticias until death threats forced him to flee Buenaventura seven months ago. He returned last month.
The police gave Caicedo some initial protection but the FLIP release criticized the failure to continue protecting him and the lack of cooperation between the local authorities and national authorities that are supposed to protect journalists in danger.
The same lack of coordination and follow-up had similarly fatal consequences in the case of Edison Molina, a journalist murdered in the north-central department of Antioquia on 11 September.
Two journalists with the Q’Hubo and Más Noticias newspapers were threatened by the paramilitary group Los Urabeños on 8 February in connection with a report they were working on. Despite requests by the journalists and by the FLIP, they were given no protection and their report was never published.
Read the FLIP release (in Spanish).
“We call on the authorities to do everything possible to identify and punish those responsible for Caicedo’s murder,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
“The police are well aware that the environment in which journalists operate is a minefield. Those investigating this journalist’s murder must actively consider the possibility that the motive was linked to his work.
Soulier added: “Big improvements are needed in the level of protection provided to journalists who are the victims of intimidation, and more media personnel must be given protection. Threats are often carried out. Preventive measures could save the lives of other journalists.
Colombia is ranked 126th out of 180 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which was published on 12 February.