MIAMI, Florida (February 25, 2010)–The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and the international community today joined in publicly praising the governor of the Brazilian state of Bahia for his agreeing to pay reparations, to be delivered on April 7, to the widow and children of murdered journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira, killed in January 1998 in Itabuna.
Given the delay in justice being done this case became of particular concern to the IAPA, submitting it to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which on learning of the background made a number of recommendations to the Bahia state government, which has since been acting on them.
In September last year, at a ceremony held in the presence of the dead journalist’s family, Governor Jaques Wagner publicly acknowledged the state’s responsibility in the crime for not having ensured press freedom. This was the first time that a Brazilian state government had admitted such responsibility in the murder of a journalist.
In a letter being sent by newspaper readers throughout the Americas to Governor Wagner, they welcomed the political gesture and reiterated to him the need for him to have the judiciary reopen the case so as to identify, arrest and punish the guilty, thus ensuring that the crime does not continue to go unpunished.
The IAPA is conducting a hemisphere-wide campaign titled “Let’s Put an End to Impunity” so that more than 350 crimes against journalists committed in the last 22 years, as well as the disappearance of a dozen other news men and women, do not go unpunished. The initiative is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Readers wanting to add their signature to the letter can do so by going to the Web site www.impunidad.com.