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Journalist Granted Protection For Work Travel in Colombia

12 February 2015

The Federation of Colombian Journalists (Fecolper), affiliated to the IFJ, has successfully petitioned the court in Colombia on behalf of Rodrigo Callejas Bedoya, a journalist who was granted protection by the Colombian Commission of Human Rights in April 2010. Fecolper asked the court to extend the protection arrangement to professional travel which was denied by the authorities, thereby restricting his ability to work in safety outside his area of residence.

The judge, Gerard Arenas Monsalve, has ordered the National Unity for Protection (NUP) - the government's agency in charge of protecting people under threat- to provide journalist Rodrigo Callejas Bedoya with protection on his professional travel. Bedoya, the editor of Región al Día newspaper published in the Tolima department, will give a 24 hour notice before travelling so that logistic arrangements can be made, the judge said.

Fecolper brought its action after the NUP's decision of 18 September 2014 to introduce a “reduction and adjustment of associated expenses like plain tickets and escort on travels, extra gas, tolls and temporary support vehicles” in order to reduce the costs to the programme which protects a dozen of individuals under threat.

Adriana Hurtado, President of the FECOLPER, welcomed the judge's decision saying that " More than 200 journalists who rely on the government's protection sometime need to go on unexpected travels for their journalistic work in different regions of the country. The measures adopted by the National Unity for Protection reduce the freedom of press, endanger the lives of journalists who, at their own risk, decide to travel without the security detail."