15 julio 2003

IAPA issues appeal on still unpunished murder of Colombian journalist

MIAMI, Florida (July 15, 2003)—In a new bid to raise awareness of the need to solve the so far unpunished murders of journalists in the Americas, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today asked Colombian Attorney General Luis Camilo Osorio for his help in pursuing the investigation into the death of Gerardo Bedoya Borrero in the Colombian city of Cali six years ago.

The IAPA is waging a hemisphere-wide campaign titled “Let’s Put an End to Impunity” to ensure that the murders of 272 journalists in the last 15 years do not continue to go unpunished. Advertisements alluding to the crimes are being published in more than a hundred newspapers in North, South and Central America and the Caribbean. They call on readers to go to the Association’s special Web site, www.impunidad.com, to add their signatures to an open letter to governments calling for action.

Bedoya Barrero was opinion page editor of the Cali daily newspaper El País. In his column he constantly exposed the corrupting influence of drug traffickers in local politics. He was shot to death at close range by a hired gunman. The investigation into the incident has been inexplicably stalled and there are still no leads as to who might have been behind the crime, leading to a growing fear among local residents of a conspiracy to throw investigators off the trail.

The IAPA’s interactive campaign, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also includes investigative reporting activities, training for reporters working in danger zones and a monitoring of the state of press freedom in the Americas.

Newspapers, magazines and online publications, members and non-members of the IAPA alike, are taking part on a voluntary basis in this initiative, providing free space for publication of each month’s ad. In June, thousands of readers in a number of countries signed a letter to the governor of Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil, Rosinha Garotinho, requesting her intercession to speed up the investigation into the murder eight years ago of journalist Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva to bring those guilty to justice.