Yaneth Montoya Martinez, Journalist; Ademir Luna, Journalist

Re: Yaneth Montoya Martinez, Journalist; Ademir Luna, Journalist

To: President Alvaro Uribe Velez, president of Guatemala

From: Monique Pongracic-Speier

Date: 2004-04-05

LRWC is gravely concerned about the safety of Ademir Luna, and his wife and fellow journalist, Yaneth Montoya Martínez, after an attack apparently intended for Mr. Luna was made against another man in Barrancabermeja, Santander Department.

In an apparent case of mistaken identity, on March 29, 2004, at approximately 11:15 am, Mr. Fabián Correa was attacked while driving a taxi belonging to Ademir Luna’s father, Eduardo. Two men entered the taxi and forced Mr. Correa to drive to a dead-end street. One of the men reportedly said to Mr. Correa, “Usted es Ademir Luna, cierto? Lo vamos a matar.” The men then doused Mr. Correa in petrol and attempted to set fire to him and the vehicle, but their lighter did not work. Before fleeing, the attackers said, “Sabe que gordo hijo de puta, usted está rezado. Dígale a esa gonorrea que se cuide, que lo vamos a matar.” Mr. Correa reported the attack to the police.

On February 3, 2004 at approximately 9:00 pm, Mr. Luna’s house was watched by three men unknown to him and his family.

Mr. Luna’s wife, Ms. Montoya Martínez, was threatened by paramilitaries in October 2003. She was then forced to quit her position on the regional newspaper, Vanguardia Liberal, and to flee Barrancabermeja in November 2003.

The brutality of the attack on Mr. Correa and the violence intended for Mr. Luna is extremely disturbing. LRWC also condemns the level of harassment that compelled Ms. Montoya Martínez to flee her home. LRWC is aware that Colombia suffers with one of the highest levels of violence against journalists in the world.

LRWC calls upon the Government of Colombia to apply the principles articulated in the following international conventions and declarations affirming the right of journalists to express themselves and to pursue their profession free from harassment and violence:

  • Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression [including] . . . freedom . . . to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”;
  • Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights, which establishes that the right to freedom of expression comprises the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas by any means of communication;
  • Resolutions 59(I) and 45/76A of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted on December 14, 1946 and December 11, 1990, in which the General Assembly affirmed that freedom of information is a fundamental human right and resolved and that information in the service of humanity deserves protection;
  • Resolution 1997/27 of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the right to freedom of opinion and expression;
  • Resolution 29, “Condemnation of violence against journalists”, adopted at the 27th Plenary Meeting of UNESCO on November 12, 1997; and
  • Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, approved by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (“ICHR”) during its 108th regular session in October 2000. I note that at the time the Declaration was adopted, the President of the ICHR, Dr. Helio Bicudo, stated, “It is important that States begin to bring their laws into compliance with the principles of this Declaration.”

LRWC further calls also upon you to bring about an immediate, full and impartial investigation into the attack against Mr. Correa and the death threats against Mr. Luna. We encourage you to make public the results of these investigations and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. LRWC also urges you to take appropriate measures to protect the safety of Mr. Luna, Ms. Montoya Martínez, and their families, in accordance with their wishes.

Finally, LRWC reiterates its call to the Government of Colombia, expressed in earlier letters to you, to take immediate action to dismantle paramilitary groups and investigate their links with security forces. Paramilitaries are known to be implicated in violence against journalists and others in the Barrancabermeja area. The Government of Colombia has committed to disbanding paramilitary groups, in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations and other intergovernmental organizations, but has not yet taken effective action on this front. We call on you to remedy this situation forthwith.

Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax, of the actions that you are taking in relation to the matters discussed above. LRWC awaits your response.