19 October 1998


Open letter to Mary Robinson

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - The following is the full text of an open letter to Mary
Robinson, dated 16 October 1998, in which Reporters Sans Frontières calls
for the murder of eight journalists not to go unpunished:

**For background information, see IFEX alerts as noted in text**
Mrs Mary Robinson

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Dear Madam,

On the eve of your visit to Colombia on 20 and 21 October, Reporters Sans
Frontières wishes to draw your attention to the serious infringements of
press freedom that occurred in 1997 and 1998 in that country.

For the eighth consecutive year, Colombia is the Latin American country
where most journalists have been murdered. According to our information,
since 1 January 1997, eight journalists have been killed because their
investigations upset drug traffickers or paramilitary groups. They are:

- Fredy Elles Ahumada, a photographer with the daily "El Espectador", who
was murdered on 17 March 1997. In 1995, during a demonstration, he had taken
photographs of armed gangs and recorded instances of police brutality. His
killers were apparently two members of one of the gangs [see IFEX alerts of
19 and 21 March 1997.]

- Gerardo Bedoya Borrero, editorial writer with the daily "El País" in Calí,
Valle del Cauca department, who was murdered on 20 March 1997. In his
articles, he had spoken out in favour of extraditing drug traffickers to the
United States. Traffickers have been accused of the killing [see IFEX alerts
of 23 March 1997 and 23 March 1998.]

- Francisco Castro Menco, owner of the radio station Majagual AM in
Majagual, Sucre department, who was murdered on 8 November 1997. In his
broadcasts, he had defended the new mayor of a town in Sucre department who
had been accused of sympathising with guerrillas of the Armed Revolutionary
Forces of Colombia (FARC). The killing was apparently the work of an
extreme-right paramilitary group, the Self-Defence Movement of Cordova and
Urabá [see IFEX alert of 14 November 1997.]

- Jairo Elías Marqués, editor of the satirical magazine "El Marqués" in
Armenia, capital of Quindio department, who was murdered on 20 November
1997. He had been investigating embezzlement of public funds [see IFEX alert
of 21 November 1997.]

- Oscar García Calderon, a journalist specialising in bullfighting for the
daily "El Espectador", who was murdered on 22 February 1998. He had helped
one of his colleagues to obtain a meeting with the state prosecutor to
inform him about ties between bullfight organisers and mafia gangs [see IFEX
alert of 24 February 1998.]

- Nelson Carvajal, news editor of Radio Sur in Pitalito, Huila department,
who was murdered on 16 April 1998. He had been reporting on corruption among
local politicians [see IFEX alert of 23 April 1998.]

- Bernabé Cortés, of the television channel Telepacífico in Calí, who was
murdered on 19 May 1998. He had been investigating ties between politicians
and drug traffickers in the Valle del Cauca region [see IFEX alerts of 19
and 29 May 1998.]

- Luz Amparo Jiménez, correspondent in Valledupar, César department, for the
En Vivo news programme of the Cadena A television channel, who was murdered
on 11 August 1998. She had received several death threats following a report
broadcast in August 1996 about villagers in the department being forced to
leave their homes. Extreme-right paramilitary groups are believed to have
been responsible for the killing [see IFEX alert of 12 August 1998.]

Reporters Sans Frontières has already contacted the Colombian government on
several occasions, calling for inquiries to be opened systematically into
these cases and for the killers to be prosecuted and sentenced.

We are now asking you to take up these cases in your meetings with the
Colombian authorities so that the murders of these eight journalists do not go

We thank you in advance for any help you may be able to give.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Ménard

General Secretary


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris, France
rsf (@) rsf.org

Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51

IFEX members working in this country 2

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