Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has called on authorities in Cartagena, Colombia, to take steps to protect a freelance journalist who has been forced into hiding after receiving death threats for her writing.
In a January 7 editorial which appears on the Las 2 Orillas website, Eva Durán stated that the district of Barranquilla was planning to build an animal “slaughterhouse” in a nearby village, where stray animals would be euthanized unless their owners paid a fee to get them back.
Cartagena’s El Universal newspaper reports Durán received a phone call on January 18 from a man claiming to be a fellow journalist and animal rights defender who threatened to cut out her tongue when she refused to meet with him. He said he knew her address–and even the clothing she was wearing at the time of the phone call. She also says she has has been the target of hostility from some local media outlets.
A day after her article appeared, the mayor of Barranquilla responded in the same publication, denying any policy of animal extermination. He also said previous plans to build an animal welfare facility had been shelved.
“Threats of the kind Durán has received must be taken seriously in a country like Colombia,” RSF said.
“Facts that reflect badly on certain officials can jeopardize the safety of the journalists who report them. It is essential that there should be a swift investigation into the origin of these ‘warnings’ and that Durán and her family should receive a level of protection that is proportionate to the danger.” RSF, Jan. 21, 2014
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that earlier this month, three radio journalists from the southern state of Guaviare received death threats for their coverage of an upcoming recall votefor the local governorship.
The RSF ranks Colombia 129th among 179 countries for press freedom, which makes it one of the most dangerous places for journalists in Latin America. The Infosurhoy website reports 140 journalists were murdered between 1977 and 2012. In 62 of those cases, no one was punished.