Colombian judge rules in favor of columnist after prosecutor files legal action seeking rectification

A Colombian judge denied a tutela – a judicial recourse in the country to restore fundamental rights – filed by prosecutor Daniel Hernández against journalist María Jimena Duzán because of an opinion column, Semana magazine reported.

In the Oct. 1 decision, the 3rd Civil Court of Bogotá Circuit noted that the tutela was “inappropriate” because the denounced text is framed within the so-called “opinion column” so rectification does not apply in these cases, El Espectador reported.

“From its reading it is noticed that, from the beginning, the journalist marks her intention to issue a value judgment,” says the decision, according to El Espectador. “The request for rectification from the actor is unfeasible, while the opinion, unlike information, is not covered by the right of correction sought,” the finding continued, according to the newspaper.

In his tutela, Hernández asked for Duzán to rectify what was written in the column ¿Pacto de Silencio? (Pact of Silence?), in which, among other issues, she criticized the actions of the Colombian Prosecutor's Office in the investigation of the corruption case of the Brazilian company Odebrecht in the country.

Although Duzán never named Hernández directly, he felt affected in his fundamental rights to honor and professional integrity because he is the prosecutor in charge of the case.

The presentation of the tutela generated controversy in the country. Duzán’s colleagues and organizations such as the Foundation for the Freedom of the Press (FLIP) rejected the use of the judicial mechanism and pointed it out as an attack on freedom of expression.

FLIP appreciates that on this occasion, justice has supported freedom of opinion and its central role in a democratic society. However, the Foundation has expressed concern about the judicial harassment of the press,” the organization wrote in a statement after the recent decision.

In her Twitter account, Duzán thanked the support received from her colleagues, and especially the work of FLIP.