Impunity - Brazil

WHEREAS most investigations into the murders of journalists fall short of identifying those who masterminded the crimes WHEREAS most officials settle for identifying the middlemen in the crime, and only after many years — if ever — are the culprits sent to prison; as a result, many cases end up forgotten and buried under a heavy police case load WHEREAS many witnesses refuse to talk for fear of reprisals, while witness protection services are weak and fail to provide the financial and psychological assistance that witnesses need WHEREAS there are serious obstacles due to laws and authorities that block access to public information in Brazil, including records of police investigations, and this hampers the full exercise of freedom of information WHEREAS on December 8, 2004, the Brazilian Congress passed Constitutional Amendment Proposal 29 on judicial system reforms, which among other measures establishes federal jurisdiction over crimes involving human rights violations, including violations of press freedom and crimes against journalists WHEREAS in many cases involving radio journalists and reporters killed in Brazil, the crimes are linked to local politicians, police officers, or influential local figures; this can stand in the way of a prompt, impartial and effective investigation to identify the masterminds and others involved, and it is important in these cases for the investigation to be conducted at the federal level WHEREAS in some situations, easy access to land borders and the delay in conducting tests and investigations can allow criminals to flee and to cover up crucial evidence WHEREAS the investigation into the 1995 murder of Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva remains at a standstill, with the Civil Police alleging difficulties in obtaining evidence that would lead them to the hired killers and instigators, and the prosecutor who had reopened the case was unable to report on its status in February 2005 WHEREAS prosecutors Fernando Zaupa and Ricardo Rottuno, of the Amambaí judicial district, are awaiting the results of the investigation into the murder of radio journalist Samuel Román, who was killed in April 2004 in Coronel Sapucaia, Mato Grosso do Sul, to decide whether to file charges and against whom; the investigation was before the courts in Mato Grosso do Sul because one of the defendants, Eurico Mariano, had enjoyed immunity as the mayor of Coronel Sapucaia until he lost bid for re-election, and therefore the case will be reviewed in the Amambaí judicial district; and there was not enough time to file a complaint against the other defendants because it took too much time to obtain the results of the autopsy WHEREAS Aristeu Guida da Silva was murdered on May 12, 1995, and Vladimir Rainieri Pereira Sobrosa, one of those charged with carrying out the murder, received a 28-year prison sentence, appealed the decision, and is now awaiting a new trail, while two other defendants, one of whom is a police officer, are still at large WHEREAS of those charged in the June 30, 2003 murder of radio journalist Nicanor Linhares Batista in Limoeiro do Norte, Ceará, one is at large, another has died, and the rest are in custody; the trial against those in custody is in its final evidentiary stage; no specific clues or concrete evidence was submitted regarding who might have ordered the crime; one of the suspected masterminds, who was also a mayor, was not re-elected and therefore the Attorney General’s Office filed a motion to transfer the privilege of immunity from the court in Ceará to the Limoeiro do Norte judicial district; and investigations are continuing into whether it would be appropriate for the federal judge from the Superior Court’s criminal section to get involved in the case; WHEREAS the investigation into the death of Manoel Leal de Oliveira, murdered on January 14, 1998, did succeed in identifying those who killed the journalist but not those who masterminded the crime; one of the defendants, Mozart (aka “Monzar”) Brasil, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, but he appealed his conviction and continues to work as a police official in Salvador; he was granted a habeas corpus petition in record time to remain free while his appeal is pending; one of the suspected masterminds, Fernando Gomes, was re-elected mayor on October 3, 2004; and the other suspect, Marcone Sarmento, is in custody waiting for a date to be set for his trial by jury WHEREAS the investigation into the murder of Edgar Lopes de Faria, killed on October 29, 1997, was transferred to UNICOC (Integrated Combat Unit Against Organized Crime), and the masterminds of the crime have not yet been identified WHEREAS as part of the investigation into the involvement of former Mayor Paulo Dapé in the murder of radio journalist Ronaldo Santana of Araújo, killed on October 9, 1997, prosecutor João Alves da Silva Neto filed charges against the widow of the murdered journalist for making false statements after allegedly changing her statement in Dapé’s favor in exchange for payment; and former Mayor Paulo Dapé has attempted on more than one occasion to delay the rendering of witnesses’ testimony, including his own, taking advantage of legal remedies available under the law WHEREAS even though there have been clues for more than a year as to the whereabouts of a fugitive charged with the murder of José Carlos Mesquita, the police, claiming lack of funds, did not attempt to capture Mesquita until February 2005 WHEREAS the five defendants charged in connection with the July 5, 1989 murder of society columnist Maria Nilce Magalhães are in custody waiting for a date to be set for their trial by jury WHEREAS the investigation was reopened into the murder of Nivanildo Barbosa Lima, who was found dead at the Paulo Alfonso Reservoir on July 22, 1995, and the Public Prosector’s Office began taking new evidence in the case, although the frequent replacement of prosecutors could hinder the progress of the investigation WHEREAS the investigation into the April 22, 1991 disappearance of journalist Ivan Rocha in the city of Teixeira de Freitas, Bahia, was inactivated even though a police chief who spoke with the IAPA has fresh leads in the case, and there are witnesses who saw the kidnapped journalist shortly before he disappeared WHEREAS former police officer Divino José de Matos, alias Divino 45, who is charged in the November 11, 1984 hired killing of journalist Mário Eugênio Rafael de Oliveira, was impisoned after a 17-year delay in his conviction, but the masterminds behind the crime have still not been identified WHEREAS radio journalist José Wellington Fernandes, aka Zezinho Cazuza, was murdered on March 13, 2000, and the primary defendant, former Mayor Genivaldo Galindo da Silva, is in custody and faces at least 30 administrative actions against him; the case was transferred to a court in Sergipe, but as of February 2005 he has not been convicted WHEREAS Genivaldo Ferreira Nogueira, aka “Batata,” the primary defendant in the August 16, 2001 murder of Mário Coelho de Almeida Filho, had been in custody since September 2002 but was granted a habeas corpus petition in September 2003 to remain free while the case is pending, even though he is also charged with two other homicides; and a motion was filed to change the venue of Nogueira’s case to the judicial district that includes the capital city, because he is an influential fugure in the city WHEREAS the Civil Police identified and captured those who murdered journalist Tim Lopes of TV Globo, and the Public Prosector’s Office completed its work; some of the defendants appealed the prosecutor’s decision to try them and are awaiting a ruling on their appeal; the case is in the evidentiary stage, which includes the taking of expert testimony and the investigative work needed to bring to trial those who did not appeal the ruling; and the trials should start in May 2005 WHEREAS Domingos Sávio Brandão de Lima, the owner of the newspaper Folha do Estado do Mato Grosso and the radio station Cidade de Cuiabá FM, was murdered on September 30, 2002; the Civil Police identified five individuals involved in the crime, including the mastermind; the mastermind, João Arcanjo Ribeiro, is charged with heading up organized crime and is in custody in Uruguay, although Brazil has issued a request for extradition; former Military Police Corporal Hércules Araújo Agostinho (who fired the shots that killed Brandão) was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and his motion to reduce his sentence was denied; João Leite (charged with hiring and issuing payment for the service) has his trial scheduled for May 31, 2005; another defendant, Célio Alves de Souza (who provided logistical support) is awaiting a trial date to be set for this year; and Fernando Barbosa Belo, who was driving the motorcycle on which Agostinho fled, appealed the decision and is waiting for the court’s ruling on his appeal WHEREAS the lawyer for the family of radio journalist Jorge Lourenço dos Santos, murdered on July 11, 2004 in Santana do Ipanema, Alagoas, said that the widow of the radio journalist was verbally attacked when she rendered her statement at the regional police station; the alleged masterminds of the crime hold powerful positions in the region and may be interfering in the investigation into the murder; and so far no one has been taken into custody in the case WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states: “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 that cases involving human rights violations, including murders of reporters and radio journalists, be transferred to the Federal Police, and that a decision on transferring such cases be made quickly and judiciously, as any delay would only encourage impunity to request the expansion and improvement of the Witness Protection Program, which currently fails to provide adequate security for witnesses, and as a result many witnesses choose not to participate in the program to ask the authorities to effectively ensure the right to freedom of speech and access to information contained in public records and police investigation files to ask the Departments of Public Security of the states of Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Brasília, Sergipe, Espírito Santo, Rondônia and Alagoas to provide the logistical support and infrastructure needed for effective police investigations, including payment of travel expenses for the transfer of suspects; expedited laboratory services for ballistic, DNA, and fingerprint testing; availability of vehicles for basic investigations; and expedited requests in relation to court orders, arrest warrants, and prison sentences to demand that police and criminal justice investigations not only identify and jail hired killers and middlemen in crimes against journalists, but those who order the crimes as well to request that the state Departments of Public Security to take the necessary measures to prevent the flight of those involved in committing crimes to request that the necessary measures be taken to prevent bureaucracy and corruption from slowing down the progress of court cases and delaying the conviction of defendants to request that defendants holding political office also be tried, even if this is done in a higher court, in order to prevent delays in the investigation of cases in which they are involved to request that members of the Public Prosecutor’s Offices of the various states devote themselves earnestly to the investigations and that new evidence and testimony be gathered to identify the culprits and ensure that cases are properly shepherded through the justice system and are not placed on hold every time a prosecutor or police chief is replaced to request that the Ministry of Justice and the Uruguayan government expedite the proceedings to have João Arcanjo Ribeiro extradited from Uruguay to Brazil, so that he may be tried for the murder of Domingos Sávio Brandão, among others to request the assistance of the Paraguayan government in capturing those charged with the murder of Samuel Román, given that many criminals escape across the land border between Brazil and Paraguay