The Committee to Protect Journalists released the following statement in response to a recent ruling by the Colombian Supreme Court’s Labor Cassation Chamber upholding the defamation conviction of journalist Vicky Dávila Hoyos and the media outlet RCN:
“It is troubling that the Colombian Supreme Court confirmed the damages imposed on Vicky Dávila and RCN, disregarding international standards on press freedom,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could inhibit journalists’ abilities to report freely and without the fear that they will face hefty fines for their coverage.”
In its March 24 decision, the Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling from October 15, 2020, which Dávila had contested. In that October ruling, the court ordered Dávila and RCN to pay more than $43,000 in damages to the family of a police colonel who was removed from his post after Dávila reported on allegations that he was corrupt, as CPJ documented at the time. The Supreme Court’s decision will be reviewed by the Constitutional Court, Dávila wrote on Twitter.
The Supreme Court wrote in its decision that freedom of expression had not been breached by the lower court’s ruling, adding that, in the exercise of journalism, “spewing value judgments and incriminating comments that conflict with impartiality, can contribute to triggering conflicts or violations of fundamental rights.”
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