Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa - FLIP

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Monday, 02 May 2016 20:01

Álvaro Uribe Vélez once again attacks Daniel Coronell on Twitter

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The Foundation for Press Freedom - FLIP - condemns the continuous comments and accusations made by the senator of the Centro Democrático against the columnist of Semana.

In the last edition of the magazine Semana, the journalist Daniel Coronell published his habitual column with the title "The criminalization of the one who investigates". The text was referring to the stigmatization made by Álvaro Uribe Vélez against the journalist Yohir Akerman. In his column Coronell also pointed other facts that could relate Uribe and his family with drug-traffickers.

Finally he highlighted the form in which the Senator and Ex-president defends himself against the denunciations: he accuses those who investigate, a strategy to divert the accusations he faces.

After the publication of the article, the senator of the Centro Democrático attacked Daniel Coronell once again, assuring that he had links with Pastor Perafán, extradited drug-trafficker. In one of his trills he also accused the columnist of having received million-worth contracts from state entities during the government of Juan Manuel Santos.

It is not the first time that Álvaro Uribe makes this accusation. He does it regularly whenever the journalist criticizes him. This type of accusation and especially its recurrence has at least two consequences in terms of freedom of expression:

First it suggests an unfounded dangerousness of the journalist which could induce series of aggressions against him. The fact that a congressman accuses a journalist of being linked with narcotraffic is a very serious affirmation if it simply based on opinion, without evidences. It puts him in the position of actor of the violence and could justify a repression or an attack on the part of the state or of violent counterparts.

Thereon it is necessary to clarify that it is not the same when a public official is the one who launches this type of affirmations, especially when he does it against a journalist. The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the OAS has been emphatic in declaring that public officials are the ones who have the obligation to adopt a favorable public speech that helps to prevent violence against journalists. It said: "the obligation to guarantee the rights of freedom of expression and the personal integrity require that the public officials abstain from realizing declarations that expose journalists and medias workers to a major risk of acts of violence".

Secondly, it is formulated as a threatening message to other medias and journalists, creating an inhibitory effect to extend a topic that has became a public matter. In that sense it is worth highlighting that this recurrent strategy of the Senator of answering with accusations, instead of presenting his version and opinion about the facts, leads to the weakening of the public deliberation that is expected in a democracy and fractures the guarantees for the citizens in Colombia to think and report on the public power.

The FLIP asks the Senator Uribe to express his disagreements with the press in a way that does not affect the work of journalists. It invites him to guarantee the liberty of expression and information in all of his actions and declarations.