Colombia: Protect journalist at risk
José Alberto Tejada is a journalist and director of the Colombian media outlet Canal2. Since the beginning of the national strike, José Alberto has denounced the irregular and improper actions committed by the public forces against those who demonstrate peacefully in the city of Cali, epicentre of the national Strike.
Between June and August 2021 journalist José Alberto Tejada has been victim of security incidents that have put his life and physical integrity at serious risk. On 4 June, a member of the Group of Special Operations (GOES) of the National Police threatened Tejada while he was covering the humanitarian situation in the area called “Paso del Aguante” in Cali saying: “you are good enough to shoot you” (“está bueno como para pegarle un tiro”). On 20 July, while José Alberto was covering the demonstrations on person of his protection team was shot three times, allegedly by an agent of National Police Mobile Anti-riot squad (ESMAD), wounding his shoulder, thigh, and knee. On 7 August, around 1:30 am, members of his protection team observed a man on a red motorcycle drawing a gun near José Alberto Tejada's residence, the motorcyclist fled, dissuaded by the men providing voluntary protection to José Alberto.
José Alberto Tejada has been victim of stigmatization by high level public officials and armed groups who have publicly accused him of spreading “fake news” to incite violence in Cali. On 6 June, Senator María Fernanda Cabal shared on her Twitter account the publication of an account called "Destructo II" showing the image of José Alberto Tejada and accusing him of being responsible for the violence in Cali for spreading “fake news”. On 20 August, a pamphlet declaring José Alberto Tejada as one military target, signed by people that identify themselves as “Black eagles- Bogotá DC Capital Block” (Águilas Negras, Bloque Capital D.C) was circulating in social networks and instant messaging applications.
Since 4 June, José Alberto has a self-procured protection scheme, staffed by former members of the Colombian security forces, who voluntarily donate their time to protect the journalist.
On 9 July, José Alberto requested precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and protection measures from the National Protection Unit (UNP) for him, his team, and the premises Channel 2. On 23 August, the UNP partially responded to the request. Nevertheless, the scheme proposed does not meet the security needs of Jose Alberto, his family, and his team.
On 19 August, 35 members of the Colombian Congress asked the Ministry of the Interior and the UNP to provide protection measures for journalist José Alberto Tejada.