CJFE is alarmed by death threats made to Colombian journalist

Friday, October 16, 2009

His Excellency Jaime Girón Duarte
Ambassador to Canada
Embassy of Colombia
360 Albert Street, Suite 1002
Ottawa, ON. - K1R 7X7

October 16, 2009

Dear Ambassador,

I am writing on behalf of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that works to promote and protect press freedom and freedom of expression around the world.

CJFE is alarmed by the death threats made to journalist Herbin Hoyos Medina, which forced him to flee Colombia on October 12. Hoyos is the host of "Voces del Secuestro" (Voices of the Kidnapped) on Caracol Radio, a show he started 18 years ago after being kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in the 1990s.

Hoyos told local press that while at a public event in Bogotá he received a tip by Colombian authorities about a FARC guerilla plot to have him killed. He immediately fled alone and escaped unharmed. The SUV he was expected to leave in was hit by an unidentified truck, which authorities said was part of the murder plot. Hoyos told local media he had received death threats in the past and has fled Colombia six times prior to October 12. He has been under the protection of a police bodyguard since 2002.

There have been 40 attacks against Colombian journalists since the start of 2009. On May 11, Carlos Serrano, the director and host for Bogotá-based Radio Diversia, left Colombia after receiving death threats from a group called La Organización. According to The Committee to Protect Journalists in 2008 four journalists fled their homes due to similar threats.

CJFE urges the Colombian government to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the threats Hoyos and other journalist have received. We appeal to authorities to continue to provide protection for Hoyos, to ensure his safe return to Colombia and to allow him to continue his work without fear.

We thank you for your attention and look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Arnold Amber, President

CC: The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Matthew Levin, Ambassador to Colombia, Embassy of Canada, Colombia