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Paramilitary groups one of greatest threats to Colombia press, report says

Paramilitary groups represent one of the greatest threats to the press in Colombia, where 84 cases of aggression and harassment against journalists were recorded in the first semester of this year, leaving 104 victims, according to a new report from the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP in Spanish), published by La Opinión.

According to the report, the main violations against journalists in Colombia include 57 cases of threats, 15 cases of inhumane or degrading treatment, seven cases of obstructing the exercise of journalism, two cases of illegal arrests, plus one case each of killings, injuries and attacks on the media, explained Vanguardia.

The only killing of a journalist in this South American country reported this year was the death of independent journalist Luis Eduardo Gómez, who was killed June 30 in Antioquía. Gómez was a witness for the prosecution in an investigation about links between politicians and paramilitaries.

According to the FLIP report, the regions with the most threats against journalists are Antioquía and Cauca, in southwestern Colombia, said Elcolombiano.com.

In Cauca, threats have come in the form of pamphlets signed by paramilitary groups. Further, as part of the combat between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC in Spanish) and the army in July, the guerrilla group detonated a bomb in the community radio station of Red Nasa, which was forced off the air, explained FLIP.

Among the cases of threats and harassment, FLIP highlighted the intimidations and threats against Mary Luz Avendaño, correspondent in Medellín for the newspaper El Espectador, who was investigating violence linked to drug trafficking.

Colombia celebrates Aug. 4 as the Day of the Journalist, but FLIP cautioned that it is not a day to selebrate, announcing that regional television channel Telecaribe will go off the air for four minutes and 850 community radio stations will go silent at noon in protest of the violence against journalists.

See here the complete statistics from the report and the descriptions of the different categories.

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