Wednesday, July 3, 2002Canadian Journalists for Free Expression is outraged by the murder of a colleague in Colombia, the eighth killing of a journalist in that country since the beginning of the year. Efrain Alberto Varela Noriega, owner of Radio Meridiano-70 and host of two political programs on that station, was shot dead in front of two of his relatives after his car was stopped on a rural road in the northeastern Colombian department of Arauca. "The government of Colombia must act, forcefully and now, to end the killing of journalists," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said. "The country cannot hope to achieve any degree of social peace until this epidemic of murders is halted." According to CJFE's information, Varela Noriega was stopped June 28 by gunmen, ordered out of his car, and shot twice at close range. Less than a week before, Varela Noriega alerted his radio audience to the presence of the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia in Arauca, which borders Venezuela. The killing of Varela Noriega confirms Colombia's status as one of the most dangerous countries for journalists. Those who attempt to cover corruption, illegal activities, or Columbia's 38-year civil war face threats, harassment, violence, and, too often, death. CJFE is a non-profit association of journalists and others committed to promoting and defending press rights and freedom of expression in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy, tel (416) 515-9622, fax (416) 515-7879, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Web: www.cjfe.org.
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