After dramatic spike in attacks on media, Colombia strengthens crimes against journalists unit

Seven journalists were killed in Colombia in 2010, and total attacks on the media were almost double the number that occurred over the previous four years combined, says the annual report of the Colombian Federation of Journalists (Fecolper).

According to the report, released on Colombia’s Day of the Journalist (Feb. 9), more than half of the press freedom violations were committed by the government, from public officials to security forces, though paramilitary and guerrilla groups each also figured into the list of aggressors, EFE explains.

In response to the violence and threats against journalists in the country, Colombia’s Attorney General, Viviane Morales, announced that her office will strengthen its unit that investigates crimes against journalists, Europa Press and Caracol Radio report.

The most recent threats include a pamphlet released by a paramilitary group that targets ten people, including three journalists. According to Morales, in 2010 there were 50 threats against media workers in Colombia, none of which were solved, El Universal reports.

The seven journalists Fecolper reports as being killed in 2010 were:
• José Carlos León Barbosa, environmental engineering student and cameraman for TV Ocaña, Jan. 11.
• Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, editor of the magazine El Pulso del Tiempo and a reporter for La Voz de Montería radio, March 19.
• Mauricio Medina, founder of a community radio station for the Pijao indigenous people, April 12.
• Arsenio Zambrano Ocampo, a well-known freelance photojournalist, April 16.
• Oscar Rubio Cárdenas, a director of RCN radio and a reporter for El Espacio newspaper, April 30.
• Víctor Julio Sánchez, reporter for El Extra newspaper, May 19.
• Rodolfo Maya Aricape, an indigenous leader and correspondent for Payumat radio, Oct. 14.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.