Thursday, August 14, 2014

Colombia: RSF Criticizes Police Bodyguard Being Removed on the 7/21, Despite Receipt of Death Threat

According to The Latin American Tribune, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said Colombian authorities’ negligence was partially to blame for the death of a radio journalist who was gunned down just two weeks after his police protection was consciously removed.

The Paris-based press-freedom watchdog, known by its French initials RSF, criticized the “tragic withdrawal” of a police bodyguard for Luís Carlos Cervantes, the director of the Radio Morena station in Tarazá, a town in the northwestern province of Antioquia.

The killing shows that the “National Protection Unit needs to be more effective in its risk analysis and its implementation of protection mechanisms that are appropriate for journalists,” it said in a statement Wednesday (August 13).

RSF calls on “Colombian authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation into Cervantes’ murder so that it does not join the long list of crimes against journalists that remain unpunished” in the Andean nation, the statement said.

COMMENT: The journalist, who had covered corruption cases in Antioquia that brought to light links between local officials and organized crime, was killed in Tarazá on Tuesday (August 12).

Cervantes was gunned down by three assailants while riding his motorcycle, according to RSF, which said the journalist’s colleagues suspect the Urabeños criminal gang, an offshoot of the now-defunct AUC paramilitary federation, was behind the killing.

Cervantes had been granted a police bodyguard in 2012, by the National Protection Unit (UNP), a government body that protects journalists and others who have received death threats stemming from their work, the watchdog said.

Tragically, the victim's bodyguard was removed two weeks ago after the UNP determined that Cervantes was no longer in danger, even though the journalist told the unit he had received a new assassination attempt on July 21.