Freedom of Expression

Press Release R56/12









Washington D.C., May 31, 2012 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) celebrates the liberation of French journalist Roméo Langlois on May 30, who had been abducted by FARC in Caquetá, Colombia, on April 28th.


According to the information received, the guerilla group delivered Langlois in good physical condition in the town of San Isidro, Caquetá, to the International Committee of the Red Cross delegates. The reporter had been captured and wounded in a guerilla attack on April 28, while he was accompanying a military patrol to shoot footage of an antidrug raid.


As the Office of the Special Rapporteur has stated, 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. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the FARC guerilla group to respect the civilian status of the journalists who cover the armed conflict and to refrain from repeating such actions in the future.


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.