Colombia recognizes responsibility in the murder of journalist Nelson Carvajal



The Colombian Government made this Friday, during the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) Half Year Meeting, a "public act of recognition of international responsibility" for the case of the journalist Nelson Carvajal Carvajal, murdered in 1998.

The injunction was ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (CorteIDH) in a judgment of March 13, 2018 in which it considered that the State had responsibility for not protecting the life of Carvajal "and for a failure to guarantee his right to the expression freedoom".

The unpublished public act was made "in order to repair the damage caused to the victim and to prevent events like the ones in this case from repeating", as well as to compensate the family for the failures and injustices committed in the investigation of the crime that remains unpunished, according to the Inter-American Court.

"On behalf of the State of Colombia, on behalf of the Government and in my capacity as presidential adviser for Human Rights, I apologize for the human rights violations suffered by Nelson Carvajal and his family," said the head of the government. dispatch, Francisco Barbosa.

For its part, the Colombian Deputy Chancellor, Adriana Mejía, handed a commemorative plaque to the family members present.

The ceremony, held at the IAPA meeting in Cartagena, was attended by 18 relatives of the journalist, including his parents Jairo Carvajal and Ana Francisca Carvajal, as well as his widow, Luz Estela Bolaños Rodríguez, and her daughters Yaneth Cristina, Paola Andrea and Maria Alejandra.

Carvajal was shot to death by a stranger on April 16, 1998, at the age of 37, when he was leaving the Los Pinos Educational Center in Pitalito, a town in the department of Huila, in the south of the country, where he was director and teacher.

The journalist, who holds a degree in Religious Sciences and Ethics, was director of the radio programs "Mirador de la Semana", "Dawn in the field" and "Medical Tribune", broadcasted by the radio station Radio Sur de Pitalito, in which he reported cases of corruption and money laundering from drug trafficking in Huila.

Carvajal was also a councilor for Pitalito in two periods (1992-1994 and 1995-1997), the SIP recalled.

"As a family we want to be clear and emphatic in highlighting that the apparent victories of criminals are ephemeral and despicable," said her sister, Miriam Carvajal.

The Colombian president, Iván Duque, referred to the "tribute" to Carvajal in a speech he gave at the opening session of the SIP meeting.

"We do it because this expression that comes 21 years after that miserable crime is to make it clear that in this Government we will do everything in our power to protect freedom of the press, freedom of expression and not be left in impunity no aggression to those who have a duty to defend the truth and the freedoms of a society, "said Duque.

According to the Inter-American Court, "the Colombian authorities undertook investigation and prosecution of alleged material and immaterial perpetrators of that homicide," one of which, led by the Prosecutor's Office, led to a lawsuit against a local businessman, an exconcejal and another individual, but all three were acquitted on April 6, 2001.

At present, the Human Rights Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor is "following new lines of investigation to determine the responsibilities of that fact," the Inter-American Court added.

The IACHR ruling stated that with Carvajal there were "declared human rights violations" relating to judicial guarantees, personal integrity and protection of family members, nine of whom were forced to leave Colombia due to threats.

The case was assumed by the SIP, which on June 21, 2002, filed a petition against Colombia before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which, after investigating it, submitted it to the Inter-American Court on October 22, 2015.

"According to what the Commission indicated, there would be sufficient and consistent evidence to conclude that Nelson Carvajal was executed for reasons related to the exercise of his profession as a journalist," the sentence added.

In this regard, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, Edison Lanza, said in the act that "this crime could and should have been clarified in the first months or years, and yet it was not like hundreds of crimes of journalists in Colombia, in Mexico, in Brazil, in Paraguay, in Honduras or in Guatemala. "

"The day that the States in a quick and timely manner identify the 'triggerman' but also the one he ordered, the murder figures (of journalists) will go down," Lanza added.

According to the Inter-American Court, "the Commission indicated that the State did not conduct a serious, diligent and timely investigation into what happened, all in a context of threats and harassment against the journalist's relatives."

The president of the SIP, María Elvira Domínguez, director of the newspaper El País in Cali (Colombia), highlighted the figure of Carvajal, who said that "because he was a probo man, an investigative journalist who denounced what others were silent, he lost his lifetime".

"We know in the SIP what this pain and silence means," added Domínguez, who celebrated "that President Iván Duque has assumed the responsibility that corresponds to the State" in this case.

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