Seeking the truth is not always welcome by governments that have something to hide. This appears to be the case of the Colombian government who recently denied the entry to Alejandra Rajal, a Mexican journalist.
The IWMF issued the following statement, which we reproduce here in its entirety:
“On October 1, 2019, Mexican journalist Alejandra Rajal was denied entry to Colombia in advance of a reporting trip for the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)’s Adelante program. The IWMF is deeply disturbed by this violation of press freedom and urges the Colombian government to allow journalists to complete their work without interference.
Upon arrival to Colombia, Rajal was removed from immigration proceedings to be questioned. Authorities detained Rajal for roughly 11 hours, during which time her cell phone – containing information about her reporting projects – was taken and searched without her permission. Colombian authorities then delivered unfounded claims against Rajal, accusing her of entering the country with a lack of resources and of lying about her reasons for entering the country.
In addition to these intimidation tactics, the officials searched her belongings, displayed threatening videos, limited her communications and did not provide access to food. During this time, the IWMF was in direct communications with representatives from Migración Colombia, provided documentation corroborating Rajal’s statements to relevant authorities.
Ultimately, Rajal was denied entry to Colombia and sent back to Mexico.
Rajal was chosen as one of 12 outstanding women journalists in a highly selective application process for this fully funded reporting trip to Colombia. Currently in its fifth year, the IWMF’s Adelante fellowship program is a well-established initiative in Latin America funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. To-date, Adelante has conducted five reporting trips to Colombia and 23 throughout Latin America; yet, this is the first and only time a fellow has faced these consequences.
To intimidate and deny entry to a working journalist is to instill trauma, inhibit vital reporting and prevent future career opportunities. The IWMF’s 30-year history has included trips for journalists to some of the most dangerous and challenging places in the world, yet Rajal’s experience is unique. This clear violation of press freedom is deeply concerning, and a somber reminder of the continued challenges women journalists face simply for seeking the truth.”
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