Impunity - Brazil

WHEREAS in February, a court denied the habeas corpus petition that had allowed policeman Mozart Brasil, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira on December 14, 1988 in Itabuna, Bahia to remain free (working in the Justice Department of Bahia), and he was incarcerated WHEREAS the Public Ministry appealed the acquittal of Marcone Sarmento in December 2005, alleging irregularities in the verdict; the appeal has not yet been heard and the mastermind behind the crime has not been identified WHEREAS the Judicial Branch accepted for trial the charge against the former mayor of Eunápolis Paulo Dapé and his colleagues Maria José Ferreira Souza (Maria Sindoiá), Waldermir Batista de Oliveira (Dudú) and Antônio Oliveira Santos (Toninho da Caixa) accused of killing radio reporter Ronaldo Santana de Araújo on October 9, 1997 in Eunápolis, Bahia; they all appealed the verdict and the decision is pending; Paulo Sérgio Mendes Lima, a codefendant, was sentenced to 19 years in prison on November 23, 2002 and named Paulo Dapé as the mastermind of the crime; Dapé tried to postpone the trial and be reelected to public office WHEREAS the investigation into the death of Nivanildo Barbosa Lima, whose body was found in Paulo Afonso dam on July 22, 1995 was reopened, but is moving slowly and although the Public Ministry has asked for new judicial actions none has yet been taken WHEREAS the killing of journalist Mário Coelho de Almeida Filho in Magé, Rio de Janeiro on August 16, 2001 has not been solved because former councilman Genivaldo Ferreira Nogueira who is accused of planning the crime was acquitted on June 30, 2005 for lack of evidence; the other defendant, Reynaldo Polary Stumpf, who was at large for a long time is now in jail awaiting trial WHEREAS two of the six people accused in the killing of social columnist Maria Nilce Magalhães, on July 5, 1989 in Vítoria, Espírito Santo were convicted, Marcos Egydio Costa and José Alayr Andreatta; two pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, Romualdo Eustáquio da Luz Faria and Charles Roberto Lisboa, but the Public Ministry challenged the plea and is awaiting expert evaluations; César Narcizo da Silva was acquitted in December of 2006 and the Public Ministry appealed the acquittal WHEREAS the investigation of the killing of Edgar Lopes de Faria (known as Escaramuça) on October 29, 1997 in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, was shelved on January 31, 2006 WHEREAS the name of the person responsible for the killing of radio reporter José Carlos Mesquita on March 10, 1998 in Ouro Preto do Oeste, Rondônia is not known; one person is in custody and the other suspects have disappeared or were killed; the police and the Public Ministry have no new leads WHEREAS radio reporter José Wellington Fernandes, (Zezinho Cazuza) was killed on March 13, 2000 in Canindé de São Francisco, Sergipe, and ex-mayor Genivaldo Galindo da Silva was sentenced to 19 years and 10 months in prison; and Silva’s lawyer appealed the sentence WHEREAS Helton Jonas Gonçalves de Oliveira, accused in the killing of radio reporter José Carlos Araújo on April 24, 2004 in Timbaúba, Pernambuco, was sentenced on July 11, 2006 to 16 years in a maximum security prison for the crime; Marcelo de Melo is in custody and testimony is being heard in his trial, and Fernando Mariano da Silva Filho is free during his trial WHEREAS the police found eight people involved in the killing of radio reporter Nicanor Linhares Batista on June 30, 2003 in Limoeiro do Norte, Ceará; all were convicted and appealed and the appeal is under consideration; the trial of ex-mayor Arivan Lucena, accused of planning the crime was suspended by the Superior Court pending proceedings to determine the possible participation of her husband, Judge José Maria Lucena whom the Superior Court has been investigating for more than a year with no indication of whether he will be charged WHEREAS the trial of ex-mayor Eurico Mariano, accused of planning the murder of journalist Samuel Román in April of 2004 in Coronel Sapucaia, Mato Gross do Sul, has been set for April 12, 2007; another defendant, Cleyton de Andrade Segovia was freed under a habeas corpus order and has fled; Alfred Rui Dias Arevalos was separated from the other defendants and has appealed WHEREAS Vladimir Rainieri Pereira Sobrosa, accused in the killing of Aristeu Guida da Silva on May 12, 1995 in São Fidelis, Rio de Janeiro was sentenced to 28 years in prison in April 2002; he appealed and will have a new trial on March 20, 2007; the other two suspects, one of them a policeman, are at large WHEREAS three people were convicted of the murder of radio reporter Jorge Vieira da Costa in March of 2001 in Timon, Maranhão, but they appealed and the decision is pending; three people accused of planning the crime stalled the judicial process; the Public Ministry and the Superior Court but the appeal has not been decided; there has been excessive delay in ruling on the appeals WHEREAS businessman Domingos Sávio Brandão de Lima, owner of the newspaper Folha of Mato Grosso and radio station Cidade de Cuiabá FM was killed on September 30, 2002 and the murderers were convicted; the instigator, João Arcanjo Ribeiro, accused of being an organized crime kingpin, was extradited from Uruguay to Brazil and is imprisoned at Pascoal Ramos Penitentiary; the judge has accepted that there is sufficient evidence against Arcanjo, but he appealed; former military policeman Célio Alves de Souza, sentenced in June of 2005 to 17 years and six months in prison for his role in the businessman’s murder, escaped from Pascoal Ramos Penitentiary on July 24, 2005 and remains at large WHEREAS the investigation of the killing of journalist Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva on August 29, 1995 in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro, needs new leads to find the guilty parties WHEREAS the police officer responsible for the investigation of the July 11, 2004, killing of radio reporter Jorge Lourenço dos Santos in Santana do Ipanema, Alagoas, has again been changed despite a demand for action from the Public Ministry in May 2006; nothing has been done as of March 14, 2007 WHEREAS a series of factors contributes to these crimes: prosecutors and police officers are constantly being changed and every time there is a change they say they are not familiar with the case and need time to get up to speed; there is a backlog of cases to be analyzed; in addition there are errors in the prison records of fugitives and failures of communication among the security agencies of the states; the situation is even more disturbing in areas near the border where it is easier for criminals to flee and important evidence to be covered up WHEREAS in most investigations of the deaths of journalists and radio reporters in the course of their work the police only manage to identify and capture the hit men and intermediaries but not the instigators and when these people have political positions the process is slower; there is pressure on witnesses and other participants to remain silent; and since the witness protection program is considered inefficient, many do not want to talk which impedes the investigations WHEREAS attacks and threats against reporters, photographers and cameramen are increasing in several Brazilian states; there are also cases of censorship; and it is difficult to gain access to public information WHEREAS increasing violence in certain regions, especially Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, associated with the lack of an effective social policy and control of drug traffic has made journalists targets for kidnapping, robberies and murder and impeded the work of the press in slums WHEREAS Although there is a law stating that crimes against human rights should be handled by federal authorities, most crimes against journalists are being investigated on the local level, under pressure of politicians and police officers accused of murders and attacks WHEREAS principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec says Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, pressure, intimidation, the unjust imprisonment of journalists, the destruction of facilities, violence of any kind and impunity for perpetrators. Such acts must be investigated promptly and punished harshly. THE MIDYEAR MEETING OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to ask the federal government to move investigations of crimes against journalists to federal jurisdiction as provided for in the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution No. 29 of 2000 that the National Congress enacted on December 8, 2004 to ask for changes in the Witness Protection Program so witnesses can contribute to investigations without danger and under decent living conditions to demand that the police and judiciary speed up investigations to apprehend, judge and punish the masterminds of crimes against journalists, not just the intermediaries and hit men, and that, when the accused have political positions, the law be stricter so they cannot use legal maneuvers to slow down or overturn their trials to ask the security officials and police to maintain a more efficient communications system to identify and apprehend suspects who are at large and unpunished inside the country to demand that officials guarantee the right of free speech and access to public documents, judicial proceedings and investigations to ask the federal government to take steps to end the general violence affecting journalists and preventing them from doing their work in the violent areas of big cities.