IAPA urges Colombian authorities to investigate murder of journalist

MIAMI, Florida ( November 12, 2003)—The Inter American Press Association
(IAPA) expressed regret today at the murder of Colombian journalist Zully Ester
Codina Pérez and urged the government to begin an immediate investigation
to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.

Codina Pérez, a journalist with more than 25 years’ experience,
was killed yesterday in Santa Marta in the northern province of Magdalena as
she was leaving her home at 7:00 a.m. for the Central Hospital where she worked
on weekdays and on Saturdays hosted a radio program. Two hitmen riding a motorcycle
ambushed her and shot her four times.

Expressing repudiation of the crime, Rafael Molina, chairman of the IAPA’s
Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared that “the
victim’s family members and those of more than 100 journalists murdered
in Colombia in the last 15 years are waiting for a response and concrete action
on the part of the authorities so that the perpetrators and those behind the
murders are duly punished and do not continue to go free.”

In her Saturday radio show, broadcast by Radio Rodadero of the Todelar network,
Codina Pérez provided opinion and coverage of local events. She was also
associated with the Magdalena District Health Union, of which she was general
secretary until a year ago.

The IAPA’s Molina said that guaranteeing a free press and the safety
of reporters was a duty of democratic societies. “We note that in Colombia,
as in other Western Hemisphere countries, journalists are facings risks for
which they are ill-equipped and in some cases lose their lives,” he said.

He announced that as part of an IAPA program to combat impunity and prevent
further crimes against journalists the organization next week will hold its
first training course for reporters on working in hazardous environments.

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