April 1, 2010

President of the Republic
Álvaro Uribe Vélez
Presidente de la República
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-2
Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 337 5890/ +57 1 342 0592

Minister of the Interior and Justice
Fabio Valencia Cossio
Ministro de Interior y Justicia
Carrera 9, No. 14-10, Capital District
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel/ Fax: +57 1 444 31 00
Vice President of the Republic
Dr. Francisco Santos Calderón
Vicepresidencia de la República
Carrera 8A No 7-27, Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: +57 1 565 7682

Your Excellencies,

On behalf of the 3,400 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our shock regarding the murder of newspaper editor and publisher Clodomiro Castilla Ospina.

According to our information, Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, editor and publisher of local newsmagazine El Pulso del Tiempo and radio journalist, was shot in Montería, Córdoba department, northern Colombia, on March 19, 2010. Castilla, aged 50, was reportedly reading a book outside his home in Montería when an unidentified gunman shot him at least eight times before fleeing on a motorbike. He died at the scene.

Castilla was known as a controversial journalist and has reportedly been the target of regular threats since 2006 due to his coverage of the links between local politicians, landowners and illegal paramilitary groups. He received protection under a program run by the Interior and Justice Ministry between 2006 and 2009 and asked for the security measures to be reinstated in November 2009 because of increasing threats. His request was turned down on the basis of a national intelligence agency report that indicated he was no longer under threat. The Ministry had reportedly ordered a new risk analysis but this had yet to be carried out at the time of Castilla’s death.

According to one source, Castilla had recently reported on a local landowner’s alleged part in the murder of a Montería-based lawyer, corruption in local government bodies and alleged links between paramilitary groups and local politicians. He had also recently been a witness for a Supreme Court investigation into the latter. The national police have begun an investigation but have not yet made public any possible motives or suspects.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Clodomiro Castilla Ospina was murdered because of his legitimate activities as a journalist, as protected by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Colombia is a signatory, and urges authorities to take immediate action to ensure that his killing, as well as all other crimes against journalists, is vigorously investigated and those responsible brought to justice. We also call on the authorities to investigate the delay in responding to Castilla’s request for renewed security measures under the journalists’ protection program and ensure the safety of all journalists and media workers in Colombia.

Thank you for your consideration of this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula                                         
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee                       

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: H. E. Carolina Barco Isakson
Ambassador of Colombia to the United States
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202) 232-8643

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