Colombian Supreme Court sues journalist for publishing critical opinions, warns another

  • By
  • August 24, 2012

By Liliana Honorato

On Thursday, Aug. 23, the Colombian Supreme Court announced a libel lawsuit against a journalist, and criticized commentaries published by another journalist, reported the newspaper El Tiempo and the magazine Semana. The court was upset over the columns that questioned and criticized some of the court's decisions.

The court's decision to sue journalist Cecilia Orozco Tascón for her public opinion column in the newspaper El Espectador, and to criticize as "tendentious" Semana magazine journalist María Jimena Duzán's comments, was criticized by the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP in Spanish) and characterized as a violation of freedom of expression.

According to the radio stations RCN and LA F.M., Orozco will not rectify anything, and nor will Duzán. “If I have to prove my opinion, even if it is unusual considering the right of expression that shelters me, I will do it in full detail," said Orozco, while Duzán said “I am not taking it back, and I won't do it because I am right.”

Colombia was rated as one of the worst (143 of 179 countries) in the 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Ranking from Reporters Without Borders published in January 2012. According to reports by FLIP and the Colombian Federation of Journalists, published at the beginning of February, violence, self-censorship, and impunity are the most concerning problems for the practice of journalism in Colombia.

On Feb. 29, a Colombian court sentenced journalist Luis Agustín González to almost 18 months in prison and a fine equivalent to 18 minimum-wage salaries for libel stemming from a 2008 article that questioned the Senatorial candidacy of former mayor María Leonor Serrano.

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.