Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Colombia: Journalist killed seven months after receiving threats


On Wednesday 19 February 2014, Yonni Steven Caicedo was killed while travelling through the Caldas neighbourhood in Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca. Just after 5 p.m., Caicedo, who was 21, was shot by two people while he was on a personal errand.

Caicedo had been working as a camera operator for local TV stations TV Noticias and Más Noticias before he had left the city because of death threats. The threats happened seven months earlier, when he had reported on a murder in comuna 12, a district in Buenaventura. While taking pictures of the crime scene he was approached by two men who told him off for doing his work and told him to stop taking pictures and prohibited him from returning to the area. The men held him by force until Caicedo managed to escape with the help of a nearby police patrol.

Police escorted him home and recommended to his family that he leave the city. The family relocated Caicedo until the beginning of 2014, when he returned to Buenaventura. During the time he was out of the city he did not work as a journalist.

FLIP is worried about the lack of attention to this case on the part of the authorities, seeing as they were informed of the threat against Caicedo. The organization is also concerned about the lack of coordination between the local and national authorities who are in charge of journalist safety.

This case is reminiscent of that of journalist Edinson Molina, who was killed in Puerto Berrío, Antioquia on 11 September 2013, after receiving death threats and not getting sufficient support from any level of authority.

It is also important to remember that so far in 2014 there have been cases of other attacks on the press. On 8 February, two journalists from the daily Q'Hubo and Más Noticias were threatened by members of the “Urabeños” (a paramilitary group). Despite the efforts of the individual journalists and FLIP calling for protection, none was provided.

The Caicedo case is happening in a period of citizen outrage over the lack of security the port city of Buenaventura is experiencing,where 41 people have already been killed this year. Hours before Caicedo was shot, 15,000 people marched for peace in the city, calling for an end to the violence.

FLIP is calling for a prompt and exhaustive investigation and asks that it be taken into consideration the fact that Yonni Caicedo had been working as a journalist until he was threatened. In addition, the organisation asks that special protection mechanisms be made available to journalists who are being threatened in relation to their work.