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IFJ Condemns Alarming Levels of Violence against Journalists in Latin America after Murders in Guatemala and Colombia

June 11, 2009

The IFJ has strongly condemned the murder of Marco Antonio Estrada Orla, 39, a journalist of Canal 3 in the city of Chiquimula, Guatemala who was killed last Saturday near his home by a gunman who shot him several times at point range before escaping on a motorbike.

The Federation of Journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean (FEPALC) condemned this murder which followed two previous killings of Guatemalan colleagues, Jorge Mérida Pérez, correspondent of daily Prensa Libre of Quetzaltenango on 10 May and Rolando Santis, of Telecentro 13 based in City of Guatemala on 1 April .

The IFJ learned that another Colombian journalist, Hernando Salas Rojas, director of Emisora Costa de Oro, a local television station of Curillo in department of Caquetá had been attacked by a gunman who shot him home on 20 May. Hernando was critically injured and died on Saturday. His murder went unreported in Colombia until his brother, himself a journalist was forced to flee for his life after receiving death threats.

"The murder of Hernando Salas Rojas has deprived people of a credible source of information in Curillo," said Eduardo Márquez, President of FECOLPER and Vice President of FEPALC. "Our Colombian colleagues are asking for an investigation into the statements of Curillo′s mayor which could potentially be interpretated as a threat leading to this murder."

"We are dismayed," said Celso Schroder, president of FEPALC, "and we would like to remind the civil societies of Guatemala and Colombia that the Organization of American States, to which both countries belong, has reaffirmed the duty of members states to prevent and investigate this kind of killings against journalists, so that the authors are punished and to repair adequately the victims."

The IFJ and FEPALC will not stop fighting impunity for murderers of journalists until plotters and those who commit these killings face justice. The two organizations regret that Central America is becoming this year one of most dangerous zones to exercise journalism in the whole world.

For more information contact:
International Federation of Journalists
Phone: + 32 2 235 22 06

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