14 February 2012
IAPA calls on President Dilma Roussef for action on crimes against journalists in Brazil
MIAMI, Florida (February 14, 2012)The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the killing of a second journalist in Brazil in less than a week and publicly urged that countrys president, Dilma Roussef, to make every effort to have a special jurisdiction created to deal with crimes against journalists and special agencies at the federal level to protect reporters and news photographers at risk.
MIAMI, Florida (February 14, 2012)The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the killing of a second journalist in Brazil in less than a week and publicly urged that countrys president, Dilma Roussef, to make every effort to have a special jurisdiction created to deal with crimes against journalists and special agencies at the federal level to protect reporters and news photographers at risk. Journalist Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, 51, was driving his car on Sunday night in the city of Ponta Pará, in Mato Gross do Sul state, on the Brazilian border with Paraguay when he was approached by motorcyclists who shot him five times. Rodrigues, known as Paulo Rocaro, died early yesterday (February 13) in a local hospital to which he had been rushed. He was editor-in-chief of the daily newspaper Jornal de Praça and founder of the Web site Mercosulnews. He was the third journalist to be killed in Brazil so far this year. On February 9 the murder occurred of the editor of the Web site Vassouras na Net, Mário Randolfo Marques Lopes, in Barra do Pirai, Rio de Janeiro state. Also under investigation is the case of radio reporter Laécio de Suza, killed in Bahia on January 3. From 1987 to date 41 journalists have been killed in the South American country, four of them in 2011. The chairman of the IAPAs Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gustavo Mohme, condemned this latest killing and while acknowledging the defense of press freedom that President Rousseff has made during her term in office he said that what is needed is for the federal government to take up this issue of murders throughout the country against a background of impunity which only encourages greater violence and puts other journalists at risk. Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, declared that the IAPA has insisted on better tools being created to combat violence and impunity in Latin America. Among other measures the organization has called for the setting up of special jurisdictions to deal with offenses against journalists, effective systems of protection, the application of stiffer penalties for those who violate freedom of expression and, in cases that merit it, such crimes be made federal offenses. The IAPA recalled that in Brazils national Congress a number of bills on the issue are pending. Among these it mentioned a proposal to amend the Constitution to make cases relating to crimes against journalists be dealt with in federal courts, another to reform the Penal Code to give priority to such cases, and a third that seeks to have the Federal Police handle investigations into them in order to improve the effectiveness of protecting the right to information. Several of these initiatives originated in May 2010 during a meeting titled Failings and Shortcomings of the Justice System: How to Prevent Impunity in Crimes Against the Press, organized by the IAPA and held in Rio de Janeiro in conjunction with the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji in its Portuguese-language acronym) and the local Catholic Pontifical University (PUC-Rio). To combat the impunity surrounding these kinds of crimes on repeated occasions the IAPA has bought such cases to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). Of the 27 cases submitted 11 of them concern journalists killed in Brazil, such as Manoel Leal de Oliveira, concerning which the IAPA managed to obtain an amicable agreement with the government, at both Bahia state and federal levels. In 2009 at the behest of the IACHR and the request of the IAPA for such an agreement with Brazil a ceremony paying homage to the memory of the journalist was held in Bahia. The government also committed to investigating another 10 cases of reporters being killed. For more information on the cases go to http://bit.ly/xHk8aP.