Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Brazil: Four journalists killed since start of 2014

Reporters Without Borders condemns yesterday's [27 February 2014] murder of TV and radio presenter Geolino Lopes Xavier in Teixeira de Freitas, in the northeastern state of Bahía.

The co-manager of N3, a TV station on which he anchored the news programme A Tarde, Lopes was the fourth Brazilian journalist to be killed since the start of the year and the third to be the victim of a targeted shooting in the space of two weeks.

Lopes was driving a car owned by the TV station and had just dropped off a colleague, Djalma Ferreira, at her home when he was fatally shot by two men in another car. The police investigating his murder have not yet identified any motive or suspects.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences and support to Lopes' family,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.

“We deplore the dangers to which Brazilian journalists are exposed and we urge the authorities to actively examine the possibility that Lopes' murder was linked to his work. We also hope concrete measures will be taken to protect journalists, not only those covering protests but also all other journalists in all circumstances.”

Following TV cameraman Santiago Ilídio Andrade's death on 11 February from injuries received while covering a demonstration in Rio five days earlier, the authorities have recognized the urgency of the need for measures to protect journalists while covering protests.

The creation of an Observatory for the Protection of Journalists, suggested by human rights minister Maria da Rosário, is currently being considered. A similar proposal in 2013, for the creation of a working group on the dangers to which journalists are exposed, was unfortunately dropped after a few months.

Brazil was Latin America's deadliest country for media personnel in 2013, with a total of five journalists killed. All these murders have gone unpunished.

The two other journalists gunned down in the past two weeks were Pedro Palma in a Rio de Janeiro suburb on 13 February and José Lacerda da Silva in northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte on 16 February.