Forbidden Stories
Rafael Project

“You can kill me, but you won’t silence me”

In the days leading up to his killing, Rafael Moreno was in contact with Forbidden Stories. The threats the Colombian journalist was receiving were becoming more and more disquieting. This is why Rafael had decided to share the information he was working on with us: so that in case anything happened to him, we could pursue his work.

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By Laurent Richard

April 18, 2023

At 7:10 p.m. on October 16, 2022, Rafael Moreno was shot dead in the city of Montelíbano, in the north of Colombia – a dangerous region dominated by the Gulf Clan, a powerful organized crime group.

Immediately after his death, we went to Bogotá. We met with dozens of Colombian, Latin American and international journalists. And on October 23, 30 journalists decided to unite forces to pursue Rafael’s unfinished work.

Six months later, coordinated by Forbidden Stories, journalists from CLIP, Cuestión Pública, El Espectador, France 24, RFI and other partners are releasing the “Rafael Project.” Today, this collaborative and international investigation is revealing significant information pertaining to environmental and health damage by mining companies in Córdoba, the region of Colombia Rafael is from, and unmasking, for the first time at-scale, a massive system of cronyism and the probable embezzlement of public funds that Rafael had begun to look into.

Like Rafael, dozens of journalists around the world are currently protecting their sensitive information and investigations through the SafeBox Network. This new network is quickly growing. Some of these journalists – like Alfredo Guachiré in Paraguay, Paola Ugaz in Peru and Haruna Mohammed Salisu in Nigeria – have made the choice to make it publicly known that they’ve joined this network. They are doing this for their own security, so that people who might wish to silence them know their stories will be revealed, one way or another, on a global scale.

Journaliste menacé

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Days before World Press Freedom day, it is important to remember that journalism, and the right for every citizen to be informed, is critical to global democracy. Pursuing the work of assassinated journalists is not just a fraternal responsibility, but also a democratic one, ensuring that public interest information – whether it’s about environmental crimes, corruption or human rights violations – is not snuffed out. This is especially true in a time when journalists are under greater and greater threat.

To Rafael’s killers: you were wrong. Today, 32 media outlets around the world are publishing Rafael’s investigations. Killing the journalist won’t kill the story.

Laurent Richard, journalist and director of the Forbidden Stories consortium

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