The IPI global network condemns the murder of Colombian journalist Rafael Emiro Moreno, who was fatally shot on October 16 in Montelíbano. Moreno is the third journalist to be murdered in Colombia in the past two months. We call upon the authorities to investigate this killing and bring those responsible to justice, and end the continued cycle of violence against journalists. 

On October 16, journalist Rafael Emiro Moreno was gunned down by two unknown assailants on a motorcycle while he was at a restaurant that he owned. According to the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP), Moreno was the director of an online media platform, Voces de Cordóba, and a well-regarded community leader. He had been receiving death threats since 2019 due to his extensive work documenting political corruption and the activities of illegal arms groups. 

In a statement given to IPI, Raissa Carrillo Villamizar, the coordinator of protection and legal defense for fournalists at FLIP, said that as a result of these threats, Moreno began receiving protection from the National Protection Unit (UNP) in 2019. However, she said that in 2020, the UNP decreased Moreno’s protection for unknown reasons.

In July 2022, Moreno received two further death threats, and asked the UNP to increase his protection. According to Villamizar, he had requested a second bodyguard, as one escort was not enough to provide him with constant protection. However, the UNP had not responded to Moreno’s request at the time of his killing. 

Moreno is the third reporter to be killed in Colombia in the past two months, after the murder of journalists Leiner Montero and Dilia Contreras on August 28, 2022. Villamizar told IPI that violence against reporters has been increasing in Colombia, a trend which is compounded by the lack of government action in protecting media workers. She added that the UNP is often ineffective in countering threats against journalists. Indeed, a report by FLIP found that the UNP requires their clients to be able to identify the source of the threats made against them in order to receive protection, despite the fact that many of these threats are made anonymously. Villamizar also said that the UNP is understaffed and does not have the resources or the manpower to provide the protection that they promise to their clients.  

“We are deeply alarmed by the killing of Rafael Emiro Romano and the continuing escalation of violence against journalists in Colombia”, IPI Director of Advocacy Amy Brouillette said. “Authorities must fully investigate this crime and hold those responsible to account. It is extremely alarming that this killing occurred despite the fact that Emiro Romano was under protection by the government’s safety programme. Colombian authorities must investigate how this could have happened, take the necessary steps to address this failure, and urgently up their efforts to protect journalists under threat in the country.”