Category: Press Releases, The Americas, The Caribbean

Colombian journalist gunned down after receiving death threats

IPI calls on Colombia authorities to conduct full investigation

Snapshot of Luis Peralta's radio station website, Linda Stereo 95.1

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VIENNA, Feb 16, 2015 - The International Press Institute (IPI) today called on Colombian authorities to immediately open an investigation into the murder of radio journalist Luis Peralta Cuéllar.

Peralta was shot various times while leaving the offices of his radio station, Linda Stereo 95.1, on Saturday, Feb. 14, in the department of Caquetá. According to the Press Freedom Foundation (FLIP), a Colombian NGO, Peralta, 63, told a colleague that he had received death threats but had not believed them to be significant and did not alert authorities.

As a journalist, Peralta was well-known for his persistent investigative reporting. Recently, according to FLIP, he had covered cases related to oil extraction and public corruption.

The murder occurred 24 hours after Peralta announced his candidacy for mayor of El Doncello. It was reportedly the first time he had sought public office.

Peralta had previously been the target of serious attempts on his life. In 2010, police were able to deactivate a car bomb parked in front of the radio station. Media reports stated that the bomb was programmed to be detonated by mobile phone.

Cuéllar’s killing appears to amount to yet another dark chapter in the history of press freedom in Colombia. According to IPI statistics, at least 88 journalists have been killed in Colombia since 1997. 2002 was the bloodiest year, with 15 journalists killed for reasons related to their work.  

IPI Interim Executive Director Barbara Trionfi noted that the number of journalists killed in Colombia had decreased in recent years, a consequence, she said, of the country’s journalist protection programme as well as widespread self-censorship.

But she cautioned: “Impunity remains a serious problem in Colombia, where justice has almost never been served in cases involving the murders of journalists, and in some instances the statute of limitations has already run out".

“We extend our condolences to Luis Peralta’s family, friends and colleagues and stress once again the need for Colombian authorities to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice.”

Peralta’s wife was also injured in the attacks. She was transferred to a hospital in Florencia where, according to FLIP, she remains. Her condition is said to be non-life-threatening.

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