Reporters Without Borders is very disturbed by the threatening phone call received on 13 July by Paul Bacares, a journalist with the public TV station Bogotá Canal Capital who is currently preparing a report on Colombia’s paramilitaries. The three-minute call, a recording of which can be heard online, consists of the sounds of automatic weapons fire against a musical background.
“The paramilitaries, the most likely authors of this ‘warning,’ are still the biggest source of danger for Colombia’s journalists, often treating them as ‘military targets,’ Reporters Without Borders said. “Bacares must quickly be given protection that is appropriate to the nature of this threat. The authorities should also examine the security needs of his Canal Capital colleagues, who could be exposed to the same danger.”
The report that Bacares is currently preparing is about the paramilitary presence in the central department of Boyacá. It highlights the ability of these armed groups to infiltrate the legal economy and their links to local politicians and other public figures. It is this aspect of the report that is undoubtedly the chief motive for the threat to Bacares.
“If anything prevents his report from being broadcast, we will be ready to make it available on the censorship circumvention website that we plan to launch in the next few months,” Reporters Without Borders added. “We address the same offer to all other journalists who are prevented from working normally, including the indigenous community radio stations in Cauca department, where the population is currently caught in the crossfire between the regular army and guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”
Some other journalists are “targets” for the paramilitary groups, who also continue to terrorize human rights activists, labour organizers, civil society representatives and environmentalists.