Freedom of Expression

Press release R 138/15

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Killing of Journalist in Colombia

November 30, 2015

Washington, D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of journalist Dorancé Herrera, which took place on November 23 in Caucasia, department of Antioquia, in northwestern Colombia. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and urges the Colombian authorities to act promptly and timely to establish the motive of the crime and to identify and sanction those responsible.

This is the fourth journalist killed in Colombia in 2015 after crimes against Luis Peralta Cuéllar in Caqueta department, Édgar Quintero in Valle del Cauca, and Flor Alba Nuñez in Huila.

According to the information available, Herrera was in the house of a relative with his classmate Marlon Quiroz when two men shot them both dead. According to the information provided by the Ombudsman, Herrera was a journalist at Antioquia University and occasionally published articles in the regional newspaper Día, from Bajo Cauca.

Local authorities offered a 30 million Colombian pesos reward (almost 10 thousand US dollars) to those who contribute with valuable information of this murder.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the State to clarify the motive of this crime; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim’s family. The Office insists that the State needs to strengthen the existent mechanisms of protection to ensure the safety of those who are being threatened because of their work in journalism.

Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.

R 138/15