Colombia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Status change explanation: Colombia's rating changed from Partly Free to Not Free in order to reflect the worsening impact of the armed conflict on journalists.

Practicing journalism in the midst of the country's four-decades-old armed conflict is a hazardous profession. Although the press is vibrant and diverse, journalists have suffered enormous casualties in carrying out their duties. Legally, the constitution provides for press freedom, but laws to protect the press are not always enforced. Legislation introduced in 2002 and still under consideration would require journalists to obtain a certificate of suitability from the government and create a council to regulate journalists' work, while another bill would extend sanctions for libel. Journalists are frequently the targets of extrajudicial killings, violence, and harassment. During the year, there were several reports of kidnappings of journalists, threats that compelled some journalists to go into exile, and violent attacks on newspapers and television stations. The number of journalists murdered in Colombia is higher than in any other country in the world. According to the International Press Institute, at least 15 journalists were killed by leftist guerrillas, right-wing paramilitaries, drug traffickers, or common criminals in 2002. Some journalists refrain from publishing or broadcasting stories counter to the interests of these groups. Media concentration and general economic problems have led to more dependency on a smaller pool of advertisers, including the government, which the media often chose not to criticize.