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Las Volcánicas: sued for reporting on allegations of sexual abuse

Las Volcánicas: sued for reporting on allegations of sexual abuse

Matilde de Los Milagros Londoño and Catalina Ruiz-Navarro are two Colombian journalists, founders of the news outlet Las Volcánicas. After extensive research, on 24 June 2020 they published a report denouncing eight cases of alleged sexual abuse and harassment against women by a renowned Colombian filmmaker. Soon afterwards the filmmaker launched a series of lawsuits against the journalists.

The filmmaker filed a complaint for criminal defamation against Las Volcánicas and a civil lawsuit claiming nearly one million dollars in damages. The claimant also filed a tutela* and obtained a court order mandating the outlet withdraw their publication. This was unless they could provide more information on the allegations. To comply with this judgment, Las Volcánicas carried out additional interviews and newsgathering on the eight allegations. The updated report, published on 12 May 2021, contained a ninth allegation of sexual abuse.

Ana Bejarano is the lawyer representing both journalists. According to Bejarano, “defending journalism in matters of public interest like this is crucial in Colombia”.

While Las Volcánicas sought to maintain the confidentiality of their sources, the claimant has insisted on disclosure. We are supporting Las Volcánicas’ legal defence in both the civil and criminal proceedings. We are committed to providing support to journalists facing legal actions for their investigations in matters of public interest.

Colombia currently ranks at 134 out of 180 in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index.

*A tutela is a constitutional injunction. Its aim is to protect fundamental constitutional rights when they are violated or threatened by the action or omission of a public authority, or of private individuals in specific circumstances.

 

To read Las Volcánicas work, visit their website here.

If you are a journalist or citizen journalist in need of support, please click here.

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