UNESCO denounces assassination of Colombian journalist
Warning that democracy is under fire with the continued murder of journalists, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the assassination of a Colombian radio reporter who frequently denounced corruption and the influence of drug traffickers on local politics.
Julio Palacios was shot dead Tuesday as he was heading to the Lemas radio station where he hosted a news programme in Cucuta in the northeast of Colombia.
Denouncing “this cowardly attack on freedom of expression,” UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura voiced the hope that the Colombian authorities would succeed in their efforts to bring the culprits to justice.
“The fact that journalists are killed because of what they write or say constitutes an intolerable attack on democracy,” Mr. Matsuura said. “I wish to pay tribute to the journalists who brave threats and intimidation to nurture open public debate, however controversial, at the risk of their lives.”
It was the latest of many condemnations he has issued over the past year in connection with attacks on journalists around the world.
In Colombia itself, national and international press freedom organizations have reported a significant decrease in the number of journalists murdered in relation to their work during 2004. But they warn that after dozens of killings over the past 20 years journalists, especially in the provinces, are resorting to self-censorship to avoid reprisals.