Thursday, January 23, 2014

Colombia: Death threats, smears against animal rights journalist


Reporters Without Borders calls on the relevant authorities to provide Cartagena-based freelance journalist Eva Durán with immediate protection. Durán, who is also an animal rights campaigner, has had to go into hiding in another region after receiving threats on 18 January 2014.

She also reports being the target of a smear campaign by media that are under the thumb of local authorities and powerful entities.

“Threats of the kind Durán has received must be taken seriously in a country like Colombia,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“Facts that reflect badly on certain officials can jeopardize the safety of the journalists who report them. It is essential that there should be a swift investigation into the origin of these 'warnings' and that Durán and her family should receive a level of protection that is proportionate to the danger.”

Durán received a call on 18 January from a man who threatened to silence her by cutting out her tongue. He mentioned her exact address and even described what she was wearing at the time of the call. Her family was contacted the same day by an unknown individual who said he was looking for her.

Durán recently wrote a story about a contract worth approximately 526,000 US dollars set up by the Barranquilla city hall for the construction of a slaughterhouse where abandoned pets and other urban animals would be slaughtered.

She told Reporters Without Borders she has been the target of hostility from certain media, including ones she has worked for, because of the story's criticism of the municipal authorities.

Cartagena lies on Colombia's Caribbean coast, a region that attracts a great deal of tourism. It is also a stronghold of paramilitary groups that have invested the proceeds from their criminal activities in the region.