Censorship in Colombia: Foreign journalists are not obtaining work visas

The Foundation for Press Freedom denounced 10 cases of foreign journalists who had restrictions to exercise their profession in the coffee country

Censorship in Colombia: Foreign journalists are not obtaining work visas

On September 3, the Foundation for Press Freedom (Flip, in Spanish) released a statement in which it denounced 10 cases of foreign journalists "to whom Migración Colombia is imposing illegitimate restrictions for the exercise of their office in the country."

Leer en español: Censura en Colombia: ¿Se están negando visas a periodistas extranjeros?

The document states that the Foreign Ministry of Colombia demanded a series of requirements to renew or issue their respective visas. "They began to make demands contrary to the Constitution: the Foreign Ministry is requesting as a requirement for the granting and renewal of visas the presentation of a university degree in journalism," adds Flip.

Why is it illegitimate?

According to Flip, in the 10 documented cases, Migración Colombia has not taken into account the different forms that exist to demonstrate the requirements of the Colombian norm when requesting visas from independent foreign journalists. In this, it is said that "people must have a qualification or expertise to practice the profession independently."

As a result, El Comercio highlights, "those journalists with a long history who do not have a university degree are being rejected." Likewise, Migración Colombia is not approving the visa or its renewal for journalists who hold titles not directly related to the communication, says El Comercio.

The statement issued by the Flip also denounces that of the 10 cases investigated, two journalists returned to their country of origin. For this reason, it is considered that what happened "violates the constitutional and inter-American standards that protect press freedom." The representatives of the journalists decided to file a right of petition requesting a meeting to seek a way out of the "acts of collective censorship against foreign journalists in Colombia."

Also read: Being a journalist in Latin America is the most dangerous office

Added to the above, the Constitutional Court of Colombia says in a 1998 ruling that, because it is a very broad concept, journalism does not depend on a profession or a study center. "When the Constitution explicitly protects the activity of the journalist to guarantee his freedom and professional independence, it is clear that it does so based on the specific task that such a professional fulfills and not on the simple circumstance of possessing an official document" affirms the Court .

What does the Foreign Ministry say?

The Chancellor, Carlos Holmes Trujillo, denied what happened to the journalists and announced that "currently for the entry of foreigners who wish to cover a journalistic event in Colombia, they must have an Entry and Stay Permit".

Regarding the subject of visas, the Chancellor pointed out that although the regulations make some demands on "unregulated liberal professions, among them the journalistic exercise", depending on the case, it can be delivered with the objective of "facilitating the work of foreigners in the territory". He expressed that "a meeting with the Flip is expected, from which observations will be collected" to include journalism in the norm.

Responding to what happened with the 10 journalists, the Foreign Ministry said that they do not have records of foreigners who have reported being journalists who were not admitted.

LatinAmerican Post | Edwin Guerrero Nova
Translated from “Censura en Colombia: ¿Se están negando visas a periodistas extranjeros?”

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