Thursday July 7th, two journalists from Manizales, Yesid López and Albeiro Giraldo, were attacked during the protests that took place in the city. When the demonstrators were in the Plaza de Bolívar honking the horn of their car, López approached one of them to ask why they were doing that. The driver replied infuriated, insulted the journalist of « guerrillero » and urged his companions to beat him.
Giraldo, correspondent for CM& in Manizales, approached López to protect him and to record the attacks with his camera. At that time the protesters attacked from behind the cameraman, damaged the equipment and pushed him toward the place where they were attacking López. Inhabitants of the area helped the two reporters and kept them safe in one of the commercial establishments in the sector.
Elsewhere in the country as in Bogotá and Boyacá, also occured attacks against the press. Several correspondents have reported attacks to FLIP and obstructions to journalistic work, especially against reporters of RCN and Caracol.
FLIP expresses his concerns about the events occured during the recent demonstrations and hopes that the freedom of press right will be secured in the coming days. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the UN and the IACHR called on the authorities in 2013 « The State has the duty to ensure that journalists and communicators who are doing their work in the framework of public demonstrations are not detained, threatened, assaulted or limited in any way in their right to exerce their profession ».
In 2013 FLIP has recorded, in a period of 75 days, 44 assaults against journalists covering demonstrations. The Foundation made a call to the public forces, responsible for 75% of the attacks, to provide the necessary guarantees for the proper conduct of this work.
In the same vein, FLIP reminds protesters that the removal of records, the confiscation of equipment and the obstruction of journalistic coverage are serious acts of prior censorship prohibited by the constitution of Colombia. It is important to note that social manifestations represent expressions of great public interest about which society needs to be informed.
FLIP calls the Asociación Colombiana de Camioneros to speak out about the events, reject the attacks of which were victims the reporters and assume the commitment not to repeat it in the future sessions of strike.
FLIP recommends that while covering demonstrations, journalists wear clothing that differs from the public forces, respect the security cordons prepared by the authorities and seek to remain as observers of the protest.