18 January 2010

IAPA pleased with Brazil’s indemnization for crimes against journalists

IAPA pleased with Brazil’s indemnization for crimes against journalists Expresses hope that crimes are a thing of the past MIAMI, Florida (January 18, 2010)–The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today welcomed news of the approval by the Bahia state government in Brazil to make reparation payments to the family of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira, founder and editor of the newspaper A Região, murdered in 1998. This act put the state in compliance with a recommendation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Expresses hope that crimes are a thing of the past 

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre expressed the organization’s pleasure to Bahia Governor Jaques Wagner at the enactment of Law No. 11,637 which provides for payment to Oliveira’s widow and children. “this is one more step toward insuring  that the murders of Oliveira and nine other journalists committed in Bahia in the 1990s do not remain unpunished and with hope that the murders are a thing of the past.”

It was 12 years ago, at around 8:00 a.m. on January 14, 1998, that Oliveira was killed outside his home. More than a decade later the master minds  behind the crime are still unpunished, but for the first time in Brazil’s history a state government has publicly assumed responsibility for not guaranteeing press freedom and is complying with IACHR recommendations to make sure this is not repeated.

Under IACHR terms in an agreement signed with Brazil’s federal government in which the IAPA acted as petitioner, it is now up to the Brazilian government to take over the investigations to identify the masterminds and bring them to justice.

As part of the agreement, in an official ceremony on September 21 in the Bahian capital of Salvador the government assumed publically, in the presence of  Oliveira’s family, responsibility for the absence of justice in this case and those of the other nine murders committed in the region.

The Oliveira case was submitted to the IACHR by the IAPA on May 19, 2000, in a petition for its intervention based on the delays in the administration of justice.

Since 1997, and as part of its Impunity Project, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the IAPA has sent the IACHR results of its investigations into 24 unpunished murders of journalists in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay. With IACHR mediation, progress has been achieved with the governments of Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico.

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 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://ww.impunidad.com and http://ww.sipiapa.org