Freedom of Expression

Press Release R21/09


PREN R21/09




Washington, D.C, April 29, 2009 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States deplores the murder of José Everardo Aguilar, correspondent for Radio Super, in Patía, Department of Cauca, Colombia, which occurred on April 24, 2009. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges Colombian authorities to investigate this crime promptly and effectively, and to duly prosecute those responsible.


According to the information published by local press and non governmental organizations, on April 24, 2009, an unidentified person arrived at the journalist’s home with the alleged intention of giving him photos and documents. Once he entered the house, the person shot Aguilar several times. The reporter died at the scene. Aguilar had a long career in journalism and had also worked for national radio stations such as Radio Caracol and RCN. He was known for reporting on issues related to local politics, and particularly for denouncing alleged cases of corruption. According to his relatives and colleagues, the journalist had been threatened in the previous months.


The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero Marino, requested an exhaustive investigation of the murder by Colombian authorities. "The murder of a journalist is the most violent way to violate the right to freedom of expression and to stop the free flow of information in a society. The authorities should solve this crime, duly prosecute those responsible, and compensate the reporter’s family, as well as take all the necessary measures to prevent this kind of crime.Those who commit this murder must not achieve their aim of covering up the facts that were being investigated and denounced. Authorities should give journalists and people all the necessary guaranties for them to fully exercise the right to freedom of expression and information," the Special Rapporteur said.


Under the American Convention on Human Rights, States have the duty to prevent, investigate, and sanction any violation of the rights recognized therein. Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "the 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." The principle also says: "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."


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