Colombia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Colombia's ongoing, 40-year-old civil war has not abated. The precarious security situation prevailing throughout the country extends especially to journalists covering the conflict between the government's military forces, heavily armed drug-trafficking groups, and various paramilitary rebel organizations, particularly the FARC, a leftist guerrilla group that retains effective political control of many areas in southern Colombia. Established laws are relatively supportive of a free press, and the media is actively critical of the government and civil rebel groups, but the national government, led by President Alvaro Uribe, lacks the political control to enforce these laws effectively. Consequently, violent reprisals and abductions are commonly perpetrated against reporters documenting human rights abuses in the civil war or the activities of drug traffickers in the region. In 2003, 4 journalists were murdered here and 40 more received death threats, making Colombia one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. A considerable amount of self-censorship results from this insecure environment. Reporting in FARC-controlled areas is close to nonexistent. After two reporters for the Los Angeles Times were kidnapped in January, the reach of the insecurity problem is understood to extend to include even foreign journalists covering the conflict. Media companies in Colombia have consolidated into huge conglomerates, all of which are owned by business groups with close ties to the political establishment. The consolidations have served to limit the range of opinion available to news consumers: These mega-companies control 80 percent of television and radio broadcasters, as well as the only newspaper with a national circulation, El Tiempo.