United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
UNESCO director-general deplores killing of journalist in Colombia

Paris - UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura on a visit to Washington, today expressed his dismay at the death of Colombian journalist Orlando Sierra Hernández, deputy managing editor of the daily newspaper La Patria, in Manizales, who died last Saturday after being shot in an attack on January 30.

"The murder of Orlando Sierra Hernández is one more tragedy in the long list of attacks on freedom of expression in Colombia," he said. "The Colombian authorities must do everything in their power to ensure that this new crime does not go unpunished."

The journalist, 43, was shot twice in the head at the entrance of his newspaper's offices. A 21-year-old hired killer was arrested over the shooting and taken to Bogotá with another suspect.

The motive for the attack is not clear but the Colombian media said Sierra Hernández had been threatened in the past because of revelations he had made in his regular newspaper column ("Meeting Point") since 1993 about corruption among politicians and other leaders in the central province of Caldas, of which Manizales is the capital.

More than 40 Colombian journalists have been murdered in the course of their work since 1991, according to the press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders.

Source Press Release No.2002-05
Publication Date 05 Feb 2002
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