Judicial delays call into question whether there will be justice in case of Colombian journalist 


July 3, Bogotá: Reporters Without Borders condemns judicial obstruction in the case against the former deputy head of the Colombian intelligence agency DAS, José Miguel Narváez, and two other former intelligence chiefs on charges of psychologically torturing journalist Claudia Duque.

A hearing scheduled for 24 June had to be postponed in the absence of the three defendants. The prison department, INPEC, failed to bring Narváez to court for unclear reasons. The two other defendants are wanted by the police after being released in an “irregular” manner in 2009 in one case and in April of this year in the other.

The postponement is the latest manifestation of judicial obstruction in the proceedings. In June 2014, Radio Nikzor, for which Duque works, revealed that the DAS intelligence and counter-intelligence files needed for the prosecution case had disappeared.

Duque has been the target of renewed intimidation attempts since this week’s hearing was announced, reviving concerns for her security.

“We are very worried about the safety of Duque, one of the 100 Information Heroes we named last year, and we condemn the judicial obstruction in the investigation into her abduction and the threats against her since 2001,” said Reporters Without Borders deputy programme director Virginie Dangles.

“It is unacceptable that the Colombian justice system is proving incapable of punishing those responsible for the threats against this journalist. It unfortunately confirms that impunity for crimes against journalists still prevails in Colombia.”

The repeated DAS threats to Duque and her family began in 2001 after her investigative reporting shed light on the involvement of the intelligence services in journalist Jaime Garzón’s murder in Bogotá in 1999.

The complaints filed by Duque from 2001 to 2004 finally resulted in the opening of an investigation in 2011. She accuses the DAS of kidnapping her in 2001 and persecuting her constantly for a decade. She had to flee abroad three times from 2001 to 2009 because of threats against her and her family.

The DAS has been blamed for other major violations of freedom of information to the point that President Juan Manuel Santos announced in 2011 that it would be dissolved and that its duties would be assigned to other security agencies.

On 23 June, the office in Colombia of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights voiced solidarity with Duque and urged the Colombian authorities to do everything necessary to ensure that these proceedings went ahead without any problem.

Colombia is ranked 128th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

The Oslo Times

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