MIAMI, Florida (January 23, 2018)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the murder of two journalists in Brazil and called on the authorities to carry out a swift and in-depth investigation so as to identify those responsible, learn the motives and bring the guilty to justice.
Journalist Jefferson Pureza Lopes, 39, host of the program "A Voz do Povo" (The People's Voice) broadcast on radio station Beira Rio FM in Goiás state, was murdered on January 17. The day before killed was his colleague Ueliton Bayer Brizon, 35, owner of the news Web site Jornal de Rondônia in Cacoal city, Rondônia state.
IAPA President Gustavo Mohme expressed sympathy to the family members and colleagues of the journalists killed in two days and expressed his condemnation of "these crimes that put Brazil back on the list of countries where it seems that the practice of journalism is at risk." Mohme, editor of the Peruvian newspaper La República, urged the authorities to "investigate urgently and in-depth so as to identify those responsible for these murders."
Roberto Rock, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, declared, "The murders of journalists harm press freedom and it is much more serious when the violence goes unpunished." Rock, editor of the Mexican news portal La Silla Rota, called on the authorities to determine the motive in both cases.
On January 17 two men riding a motorcycle shot three times at Pureza Lopes, who was in his home with the front door open. In his program he used to denounce alleged acts of corruption in the municipal and regional public administration. Colleagues and friends told the local press that he had been receiving threats for several years in which he was warned to cease his accusations and in November his radio station's building was set on fire.
On January 16 an unidentified assailant opened fire from a moving motorcycle at Bayer Brizon, who was riding another motorcycle accompanied by his wife. She was not injured in the attack. Bayer Brizon, who also was a city councilor and municipal president of the Humanist Solidarity Party (PHS), published on his Web site local political information, according to various news media. The local police are investigating whether the crime is connected to his work as a journalist.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.