Following the assassination of two journalists a few days apart, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Venezuelan authorities to conduct impartial investigations to identify as quickly as possible the perpetrators and those who ordered the attacks.
A comando of Faes (Fuerzas de Acciones Especiales), the Venezuelan special action forces, broke into Friday August 21 at Frankie Torres, director of the local channel La Guacamaya TV which hosts the recording studio at his home, located in Cabimas, in the state of Zulia (north-west of the country). Composed of at least 10 heavily armed men, he shot dead Andrés Eloy Nieves Zacarías , journalist and cameraman , and Víctor Torres, the son of the channel’s director. Hours after the assault, the Faes claimed the two shot dead were part of a “delinquent group”, without providing further details – a statement immediately denied by relatives of the victims.
This double assassination comes a few days after the discovery of the lifeless body of José Carmelo Bislick , professor and host on the radio Omega 94.1 FM , on August 18, by the side of a road in Güiria, in the state of Sucre. (north east of the country). He had recently denounced cases of corruption in the region (fuel and drug trafficking, human trafficking and extortion in the city of Güiria).
“ These assassinations, which notably targeted two journalists exercising their right to inform, are unspeakable. We call on the Venezuelan police and justice system to conduct an impartial investigation into these acts of ultimate violence to determine the perpetrators and sponsors, said Emmanuel Colombié, director of the Latin America office for RSF . RSF also recalls that state censorship, arbitrary arrests and violence against journalists perpetrated in particular by the police and intelligence services continue to increase across the country, and constitute a serious threat against the freedom of expression.”
Guacamaya TV is a local medium close to the official line of the government of Nicolás Maduro, and José Carmelo Bislick was engaged in politics for the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the official party of the government of President Maduro. This ideological proximity of the victims to the official line of government, in an extremely polarized country, makes these cases particularly complex. Indeed, it is most of the time the critical and independent journalists of the power in place who are the target of attacks.
Since the start of 2020, the independent study center Espacio Publico has documented at least 270 cases of attacks against journalists and 686 cases of violations of the right to freedom of expression in the country. Coupled with regular and organized restrictions on internet access, the Covid19 crisis has highlighted the immense difficulties encountered by independent journalists in carrying out their information work.
Copyright ©2016, Reporters Without Borders. Used with the permission of Reporters Without Borders(RSF), CS 90247 75083 Paris Cedex 02 https://rsf.org
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