Freedom of Expression

Press Release R42/12






Washington, D.C., May 1, 2012 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) states its concern for the kidnapping of French journalist Romeo Langlois, on April 28th in Caquetá, Colombia.


According to reports, the journalist was covering an anti-narcotics operation carried out by an army unit when the unit was attacked by the FARC.  Langlois was injured during the attack, and afterward, his whereabouts could not be determined.  Colombian authorities have stated that there are indications that the reporter is in the custody of the FARC.  At the beginning of April, this illegal organization had vowed to refrain from kidnapping. 


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it vital that the life, integrity and liberty of the journalist be unconditionally respected, and it demands that he be released immediately.


The IACHR has specified that independent journalists who cover armed conflict do not lose their status as civilians, regardless of the risks to which they are exposed as a result of the conflict.  As such, they continue to be protected by the applicable guarantees of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, particularly by the guarantees derived from the principle of distinction. 


Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states: "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. 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.