IFJ Calls for 'Fresh Start' To Defend Press Freedom and Human Rights in Colombia

THE International Federation of Journalists, which has sent a mission of senior officers to Colombia, today called on the Government to initiate a 'fresh start for press freedom' in the country by reducing threats to journalists and media.

In an appeal to President Andrés Pastrana Arango, the IFJ has called for a "clear and decisive break with the past" and new efforts by the Government to reduce the physical threats to journalists and media.

"All sides must stop trying to manipulate media to suit their own political interests," said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White in a letter to President Pastrana Arango "and new efforts are needed to reduce the intolerable pressures being placed on journalists."

The IFJ mission will consider fresh actions that are needed to end all forms of political pressure and eliminate obstacles to press freedom. There will be meetings with senior political officials, including the President.

The tragedy of Colombia has come to symbolise the world-wide struggle for human rights and press freedom, said the IFJ, the world's largest journalists group. "Now is the time for solidarity actions that will bring about real change an end to the cycle of killing, censorship and victimisation."