Journalists murdered in Costa Rica and Colombia
(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is an IAPA press release:
IAPA protests murder of journalist in Costa Rica
..and yet another in Colombia, bringing death toll there in past two weeks to four
MIAMI, Florida (July 9, 2001) - Today, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) roundly condemned the murder of journalist Parmenio Medina in Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica, on Saturday (July 7) - only three days after the hemispheric free-press organization visited that country and called on legislators to provide "more guarantees and respect for press freedom."
Medina, a producer and host of the political satire radio program "La Patada" (The Kick) broadcast by Radio Monumental in San José, the Costa Rican capital, was known for his humorous criticism and exposure of corruption in the country.
Protesting Medina's murder, IAPA President Danilo Arbilla called for an urgent official investigation, declaring that "this regrettable incident is sad and painful, as it comes less than a week after we were in San José, where we voiced our pleasure that Costa Rican journalists were not the target of violence, although we emphasized the lack of legal guarantees for full observance of free speech and press freedom."
Rafael Molina, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, had said following the organization's visit to Costa Rica on July 2-3 that the IAPA was concerned at the high level of self-censorship on the part of journalists due to their fear of a "barrage of lawsuits" being filed against them.
Molina, editor of the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, magazine Ahora, added that
"unfortunately, this murder will lead to another kind of self-censorship, to which the local media and journalists have been unaccustomed. What is needed is for the authorities to act swiftly to
solve this crime and bring the full weight of the law to bear on those responsible."
In recent months, Medina had been receiving threats which he reported to the police and on May 9 his home was shot at by unknown attackers with the aim, he said later, of trying to intimidate him. Two days before his death, Medina asked police to cease their protection of him because he believed he no longer needed it.
Medina was returning to his home in Santo Domingo de Heredia after recording his talk show for broadcast yesterday (July 8), when at 4:20 p.m. four men ambushed his car and shot him three times at close range. He was just 30 yards from his front door.
The Costa Rican government condemned the murder and pledged full support for the investigation. Public Security Minister Rogelio Ramos ruled out robbery as a motive on the basis of initial findings, saying he believed it to be a carefully planned crime.
Medina's program came under strong pressure over his criticism of the management of the Roman Catholic radio station Radio María, and he was forced to file a petition with the Costa Rican Supreme Court seeking an injunction to thwart any attempt to impose censorship or silence his
program. The Court upheld his request and ordered the station to continue broadcasting his talk show.
The IAPA also today expressed its repudiation of the murder of a Colombian journalist, the fourth in less than two weeks. Jorge Enrique Urbano, 53, was killed yesterday (July 8) in the Pacific Coast port of Buenaventura. He was shot four times as he was chatting with friends in a store.
Initial investigations by the IAPA's Rapid Response Unit indicated that he was murdered because of his work.
Urbano was the director of the Emisora Mar Estéreo radio station, an affiliate of the Toledar network. He hosted a news program characterized by its strong criticism of the lack of safety in Buenaventura.
He was also manager of the Recrear Corporation, an entity responsible for the upkeep of parks, relocation of street vendors and removal of drug dealers. He had received threats two months ago over this work.
Figures compiled by the IAPA show Colombia to have the highest death toll of journalists in the Western Hemisphere. From 1988 to date 100 journalists have been murdered. Those killed in the past nine months include José Duviel Vásquez, Arquímedes Arias Henao, Pablo Emilio Parra Castañeda, Yesíd Marulanda Romero, Flavio Bedoya Tovar, Alfredo Abad Lopez, Guillermo Leon
Agudelo and Gustavo Rafael Ruiz Cantillo.