Colombia: journalist Roméo Langlois released
30-05-2012 News Release 12/105
Bogotá/Geneva (ICRC) – In a rural area of the municipality of La Montañita Caquetá department, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People's Army (FARC-EP) have released French journalist Roméo Langlois to a team made up of delegates from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Ms Piedad Córdoba and two other representatives of the organization Colombians for Peace, and an envoy of the French President. After informing the Colombian and French authorities, the ICRC accompanied the journalist to the city of Florencia, from where he was taken to Bogotá.
"Apart from an injury to one of his forearms, Mr Langlois is in good health," said Jordi Raich, head of the ICRC delegation in Colombia. "We are delighted at the success of this operation. In our capacity as a neutral intermediary, we reiterate the ICRC's willingness to continue facilitating the release of other people being held by armed groups."
Mr Langlois had been held by the FARC-EP since 28 April when, while covering a counter-drug operation being conducted by the Colombian army, he got caught in the middle of clashes between the parties to the conflict. The armed group asked the ICRC directly to participate in the handover operation as a neutral intermediary. The operation took place by road using three ICRC vehicles.
Under international humanitarian law covering non-international armed conflicts, Mr Langlois – like all journalists on dangerous assignments – is entitled to the same protection as that granted to civilians.
Media outlets can get in touch with the ICRC if their journalists are captured, go missing or are wounded in a conflict situation. They can get in touch with the nearest ICRC office, call the 24-hour hotline on +41 79 2173285 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for help and advice.
The ICRC reminds all parties to armed conflict that they have a duty to respect the lives and well-being of civilians and other groups protected by international humanitarian law, including journalists on dangerous assignments who are not participating directly in the hostilities. The ICRC also urges journalists to take every precaution, when carrying out their reporting activities during armed conflicts, to ensure that the parties can distinguish between combatants and civilians.
This operation brings to 1,475 the number of people held by different armed groups in Colombia whose release has been facilitated by the ICRC at different times since 1994. More than 750 of them have been civilians.
For further information, please contact:
María Cristina Rivera, ICRC Bogotá, tel. +57 311 4910775
Pascal Jequier, ICRC Bogotá (English and French), tel. +57 311 4910789
Alexis Heeb, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 79 2187610