International PEN protests in the strongest possible terms the murder of newspaper editor and publisher Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, who was shot dead in Montería, Córdoba, on March 19, 2010. Castilla had received regular threats due to his reporting on local corruption since 2006 and had previously received protection under a government program. However, his request for security measures to be reinstated was refused in November 2009. PEN calls on the Colombian authorities to ensure that a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the murder is carried out and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Background Information

Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, editor and publisher of local news magazine El Pulso del Tiempo and radio journalist, was shot in Montería, Córdoba department, in 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 is said to have 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 due to increasing threats. His request was reportedly 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 that 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. President Álvaro Uribe Vélez has reportedly condemned Castilla’s murder and offered a 50 million peso (US$26,000) reward for information on the crime.

According to PEN’s information, Castilla is the third print journalist to be killed in Colombia since 2004. Javier Darío Arroyave, contributor to the national daily newspaper El Tiempo, was stabbed to death at his home in Cartago in Valle del Cauca on September 4, 2007. He had previously suffered harassment for his reporting on local corruption by a former mayor of Cartago. A year earlier, journalist Francisco Bonilla Romero was shot dead by two unidentified men in Cali on October 12, 2006, in what was thought to be a targeted killing. A number of broadcast journalists have been also been murdered in Colombia in recent years.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the murder of El Pulso del Tiempo editor Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, who was shot dead in Montería, Córdoba, on March 19, 2010;
  • Calling on the Colombian authorities to conduct a full, prompt and impartial investigation into Castilla’s murder and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice;
  • Asking the Colombian authorities to investigate the delay in responding to Castilla’s request for renewed security measures under the journalists’ protection program run by the Interior and Justice Ministries.

Send Your Letter To

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

Please send copies of your appeals to the diplomatic representative for Colombia in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Check with PEN if sending appeals after May 26, 2010.