Freedom of Expression

Press Release R75/13


R 75/13






Washington, D.C., October 10, 2013. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is pleased to announce that the application period for Fellowship Orlando Sierra 2014 is now open.


The fellowship Orlando Sierra provides the opportunity for young journalists and lawyers from OAS Member States to understand and apply the mechanisms of protection of the inter-American system of human rights in the area of freedom of expression.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression established the Orlando Sierra fellowship as a tribute to the exemplary courage of Orlando Sierra and the journalists who have been murdered or who have risked their lives and their freedom to defend society’s right to be fully informed.


Orlando Sierra was a writer and journalist. During his last years Sierra was Deputy Director of daily newspaper La Patria, in Manizales, Colombia. He wrote a column called Punto de encuentro (Focal Point) in which he critically analyzed issues of national and regional interest, especially cases of corruption involving local politicians. In his columns, Orlando Sierra also criticized human rights violations committed by the guerrillas, paramilitary groups, and State security forces. Despite the threats he received as a consequence of his work, Sierra never stop writing, nor did he lower the volume of his allegations.


On January 30, 2002, journalist Orlando Sierra Hernández was murdered by hit men in front of La Patria newspaper’s office where he worked.


"An attempt to silence the media is doubly a terrorist act because it instills silence through fear. We are already facing a war of weapons, why do we also have to put up with a battle of silence?" This was one of his last thought hours before murdered.


The call is open until November 15, 2013. Application requirements can be found in the website of the Special Rapporteur at the following link.


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.