The International Federation has joined its regional group, the Federation of Journalists in Latin America and the Caribbean (FEPALC), to express its deep shock at the murder of Paraguayan journalist, Pablo Medina Velasquez.
According to reports, Medina, 53, a regional correspondent for Paraguay's largest independent newspaper, ABC Color, was returning from a reporting trip outside the eastern city of Curuguaty last Thursday, 16 October, when his vehicle was stopped by two gunmen on a motorcycle. He was shot four times and died at the scene. His assistant Antonia Maribel Almada, 19, was also killed in the attack. Four suspects are said to have been detained.
FEPALC says Medina’s death is compounded by the fact he had already received numerous threats for his work. He had been targeted because of his reports on marijuana trafficking gangs in the northern area of Canindeyú, led apparently by people linked to politics. Paraguay’s Interior Minister, Francisco de Vargas, told reporters that police had been providing Medina with bodyguards, but he was unescorted at the time of the attack.
The IFJ has joined FEPALC to call on Paraguayan authorities to carry out a prompt and full investigation into the crime, so that the perpetrators are irrefutably identified and brought to justice.
“We join our colleagues at FEPALC in a united demand for Paraguayan authorities to ensure that the perpetrators of this horrific attack are correctly identified and answer for this crime,” said IFJ General Secretary Beth Costa. “Three journalists have now been murdered in Paraguay this year and no-one has been convicted for these crimes. Impunity for these criminal attacks against media workers must not be tolerated. Those who carry out these appalling attacks must be held to full account.”
Costa added: “We send our deepest condolences to the family and associates of the highly respected journalist, Pablo Medina Velasquez, and his assistant, Antonia Maribel Almada, who died in the service of their profession.”
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The IFJ represents more than 600 000 journalists in 134 countries