Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 21/14


R 21/14





Washington D.C., February 26, 2014. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of cameraman Yonni [or Jhony] Steven Caicedo, which took place on February 19, in the comuna 12 of the city of Buenaventura, department of Valle del Cauca, 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 activate all the legal instruments available to identify and punish the perpetrators behind this crime.


According to the information received, on Wednesday February 19, Caicedo was visiting someone when two persons shot him. Caicedo had worked as a cameraman for local TV news networks 'TV noticias' and 'Más Noticias'. Seven months ago, he had to leave the city because of death threats against him. On that occasion, he was approached by a group of men while he was covering a homicide on the comuna 12 of Buenaventura, who reprimanded him for his work, demanded that he refrain from recording, and forbade him to return to the area. The group of men held Caicedo against his will until he managed to escape with help from the police. As recommended by the police officers, the cameraman left the city.


On February 21, the National Protection Unit [Unidad Nacional de Protección] issued a statement in which it strongly condemned the murder of the cameraman and called on the Office of the Public Prosecutor to investigate the facts.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the State to clarify the motive for this crime; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim's family. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as strengthen the important 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.