Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa - FLIP

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Monday, 02 May 2016 19:56

Ex-mayor intimidates a journalist of the Heraldo to prevent him from publishing a piece of news.

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The Colombian Association of Editors of Newspapers and News Medias - Andiarios - and Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP - condemn the intimidations underwent by Germán Corcho, journalist at El Heraldo de Barranquilla, on the part of Galdino Orozco, ex-mayor of Palmar de Varela in the department of Atlántico. Those pressures tend to generate previous censorship against the journalist and are therefore unacceptable with the protection of the freedom of expression and information.

On Thursday 13th of April, the journalist Germán Corcho requested a copy of the decision of the Municipal Criminal Court of Soledad that orders to transmit the case to the Attorney in order to launch investigations against Galdino Orozco. According to the Court, the ex-mayor of Palmar de Varela could share responsibility in the murder of José Luis Maldonado, lawyer of Orozco’s predecessor, Rafael Ángel Fontalvo.

When the journalist obtained the copy of the court decision, he sought to communicate with Orozco to know about his version of the facts. The ex-mayor assured that the initiation of the investigations was expected, due to the fact that his opponents lead the witness Mercado Ballestas to mention Orozco as perpetrator of the murder.

One hour after the first call, the ex-mayor Orozco made contact with the journalist Germán Corcho in order to intimidate and prevent him from publishing the information disclosed in the court decision. He threatened to sue the journalist and the newspaper if the information was published and additionally accused Corcho of having received money to publish it.

Suggesting to a journalist that he will be sued if an information was published represent a pressure that seeks to intimidate or dissuade him from publishing, which is at last a way of censuring previously. At this point, it should be reminded that prior restraint is prohibited by the article 20 of the colombian Constitution and the article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights. The people affected by publications that lack of veracity can request a rectification after the broadcasting of the information, but not before.

We are concerned about the fact that a diligent journalistic work such as contrasting information with sources turns into a scenario where public figures intimidate journalists.
“El Heraldo will not accept intimidations of this type, neither from Galdino Orozco nor from anyone, Colombia a constitutional state in which the liberty of information prevails”, said Marco Schwartz, director of the newspaper.

Andiarios and the FLIP support this position require public authorities to guarantee press freedom and stay watchful on those facts.