Oscar Castaño Valencia, a Colombian journalist, was beaten and threatened last week for investigating gang involvement in child prostitution, Reporters Without Borders reported on Friday.
Castaño, who is the director of "Oriéntese," a television program on the network Cosmovisión, had been working for three months on a report tying gangs -- known locally as “combos” -- to child sexual exploitation in the city of Bello, near Medellin. He was supposed to be meeting a source when he was attacked by three masked men and forced to sign a confession stating that he had in fact been on his way to rape an under-age girl. The encounter was recorded by the assailants and Castaño was told his "life was at stake," according to RWB.
Following the attack, Castaño, who has been threatened for his work in the past and was forced into a nine-year exile in the 1980s, filed a complaint with the state prosecutor’s office in Medellin and requested protection from the government.
“Reporters Without Borders urges the National Protection Unit to ensure Oscar Castaño Valencia and his family are given effective protection as soon as possible,” Claire San Filippo, head of RWB's Americas desk, said in a statement. “The government must ensure that attacks on journalists do not go unpunished.”
Colombia is one of the most dangerous countries in Latina America for journalists, second only to Mexico, according to RWB. This past August, radio journalist Luis Carlos Cervantes was gunned down on the back of a motorcycle in Taraza, north of Medellin, just three weeks after his security detail was lifted.