After meeting the Interior Minister Francisco De Vargas on Monday, the journalists union of Paraguay (SPP) finally agreed on the future elaboration of a protection protocol today, as they have been protesting in the streets since one of their colleague Pablo Medina was murdered, last Thursday.
“The most accurate and rapid exit in order to guarantee this work is the realization of a protocol that does not determine that we would designate which of us deserve safe-keeping for the accomplishment of their work, without any other kind of criteria,” stated De Vargas after the reunion.
He also emphasized the necessity of guaranteeing the work of journalists for the accuracy and the social function they were fulfilling, and that the protocol will be elaborated with the participation of of security specialists, reported the daily Ultima Hora.
The minister evoked the progresses of the investigation over the murder of Medina and his assistant Antonia Almada, saying a scientific work will soon be able to provide evidence before launching the raids and arrests.
The journalist and his assistant were allegedly murdered by drug-traffickers in the northern region of Paraguay, close to the Brazilian region. However the attorney's office recently mentioned the involvement of the – now fugitive – mayor of Ypehu, Vilmar Acosta, as the moral author of the crime.
The representative of the journalist union stressed that this protocol needed to be implement as soon as possible for journalists realizing dangerous works in risky areas.
On Sunday, several journalists investigating the murder of their colleague in the northern state of Curuguaty denounced having received death threats. They claimed the threats came from people involved in drug trafficking, with high levels of impunity, who intercepted them in the street in places of temporary residency, such as hostels.
Dante Melgarejo, from the TV channel Telefuturo, declared that these types of threats were emitted on a daily basis. Once, someone on a motorbike told him “journalists, you are all going to die.”
As for journalist Mabel Rehnfeldt, from ABC Color, like Medina, she said that alleged drug traffickers had taken over the hostel chosen by several journalists. They parked vans outside, then searched for the journalists' rooms, knocking on doors. The journalists had to call security and were taken out of the hostel. Rehnfeldt said they were still receiving threatening messages after this incident.
According to the journalists' union, 16 journalists have been murdered since 1991.