Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 13/15



R 13/15




Washington D.C., February 17, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist Luis Peralta Cuéllar, which took place on February 14 in the town of El Doncello, department of Caqueta, 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, Peralta Cuéllar was shot seven times near his house. His wife, who was with him at that time, was wounded. The journalist -director and owner of Linda Stereo station, a Caracol Radio affiliate- had told colleagues that he had been victim of threats recently, but he had not given any details nor reported it to the authorities.


Investigations on corruption cases were an important part of his professional career, but he also addressed violence problems in his country and encouraged debate on regional issues of public interest. The day before his death, Peralta Cuéllar had announced officially he would run for mayor in El Doncello. This would have been the first time he would stand for election to public office.


The Colombian Government informed that the Office of the Attorney General started an investigation on the crime and the Police offered a 50 million Colombian pesos reward (21,000 US dollars, approximately) to those who contribute with valuable information to clarify the case.


The Linda Stereo radio station was subject to a bomb attack in August 2010, but it was defused on time by the Police.


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 strengthen the 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.