Journalists from La Opinión assaulted by smugglers
The FLIP condemns the attack suffered by Jhon Jaire Jacome and Juan Pablo Bayona in the region of Norte de Santander. The attack on the reporters' vehicle occured while they were covering confrontations between smugglers and public forces.
On Tuesday July 12th, journalists from La Opinión moved from Cucuta to the municipality of Puerto Santander to cover gasoline seizure by the the Polfa (Tax and Customs Police) to the border smugglers. Reporters came in the middle of the operation and were attacked with stones.
Members of the Polfa isolated Jacome and Bayona during the confrontation in order to keep them safe and accompanied them back to Cúcuta in a caravan composed with the Mayor of Puerto Santander, Henry Valero ; the journalists and other organizations.
When the caravan reached the town of Aguaclara, unknown people shot indiscriminately the caravan while they torched a tree trunk to hide them and block the pathway. The vehicle in which the reporters were transported ended affected by the rifle impacts, however, Jacome and Bayona were unhurt.
FLIP expresses concerns about the events that occured during the confrontations and hopes that the press freedom right will be secured in the next operations. The 9th Principle of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that « the murder, kidnapping, intimidation or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media, violates the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation ».
FLIP asks the Fiscalía General de la Nación and the Policía Nacional to quickly investigate what happened in order to punish those responsible for the attacks. The lack of results in the investigations would feed any future action of aggression against the press.