Photo: Luis Carlos Cervantes
Reporters Without Borders said Colombian authorities’ negligence was partially to blame for the death of a radio journalist who was gunned down just two weeks after his police protection was removed.
The Paris-based press-freedom watchdog, known by its French initials as RSF, lamented the “tragic withdrawal” of a police bodyguard for Luis Carlos Cervantes, the director of the Radio Morena station in Taraza, a town in the northwestern province of Antioquia.
The killing shows that the “National Protection Unit needs to be more effective in its risk studies and its implementation of protection mechanisms that are appropriate for journalists,” it said in a statement Wednesday.
RSF calls on “Colombian authorities to conduct an exhaustive investigation into Cervantes’ murder so that it does not join the long list of crimes against journalists that remain unpunished” in the Andean nation, the statement said.
The journalist, who had covered corruption cases in Antioquia that brought to light links between local officials and organized crime, was killed in Taraza on Tuesday.
Cervantes was gunned down by three assailants while riding his motorcycle, according to RSF, which said the journalist’s colleagues suspect the Urabeños criminal gang, an offshoot of the now-defunct AUC paramilitary federation, was behind the killing.
He had been granted a police bodyguard in 2012 by the National Protection Unit, or UNP, a government body that protects journalists and others who have received threats stemming from their work, the watchdog said.
But that protection was taken away two weeks ago after the UNP determined that Cervantes was no longer in danger, even though the journalist told the unit he had received a new death threat on July 21.