07 April 2014

Impunity - Brazil

WHEREAS on May 2013 the Court of Justice of Ceará overturned the acquittal of former mayor Arivan Lucena, who was charged with ordering the murder of Nicanor Linhares Batista, a radio journalist killed on June 30, 2003, in Limoeiro do Norte, Ceará; on November 26, 2013, another defendant, José Vanderley dos Santos Nogueira, was sentenced to 26 years in prison for his role in the crime WHEREAS the role of José Maria de Oliveira Lucena, a federal judge for Region 5, in the killing of radio journalist Nicanor Linhares Batista continues to be investigated in criminal case number 517 of the Superior Court WHEREAS on October 24, 2013, João Arcanjo Ribeiro was sentenced to 19 years in maximum-security prison for ordering the 2002 murder of businessman Domingos Sávio Brandão de Lima, owner of the newspaper Folha do Estado and the radio station Cidade de Cuiabá FM WHEREAS on November 4, 2013, police officer Romualdo Eustáquio da Luz Faria, aka “Japonês,” was sentenced to 15 years and five months in prison for his role in the killing of social columnist Maria Nilce dos Santos Magalhães, which occurred on July 5, 1989 in Vitória, Espírito Santo; and his attorneys stretched the trial out for seven years by arguing that he suffered from bipolar disorder, although this claim was denied by the doctors WHEREAS gunman Paulo Sérgio de Lima, convicted of killing radio journalist Ronaldo Santana de Araújo on October 9, 1997, in Eunápolis, Bahia, had escaped after being moved from maximum-security to medium-security prison, but he was arrested again on December 10, 2013, for multiple crimes and remains incarcerated at the Eunápolis Unit; Paulo Ernesto Ribeiro da Silva, aka Paulo Dapé, who was the mayor of Eunápolis at the time of the crime, and former municipal employees Maria José Ferreira Souza, Waldemir Batista de Oliveira, and Antônio Oliveira Santos, who are also defendants in the case, have not yet been brought to trial for the killing of Araújo WHEREAS on February 5, 2014, gunman Jhonathan Silva and Marcos Bruno Silva, the driver of the getaway motorcycle, were convicted of killing journalist Décio Sá on April 23, 2012, in São Luís, state of Maranhão; the charge against attorney Ronaldo Ribeiro, one of 12 defendants in the case, was dropped on October 17, 2013; and the other nine defendants, including the masterminds, remain behind bars awaiting trial WHEREAS on February 14, 2014, Alessandro Neves Augusto, aka “Pitote,” who had been impersonating a police officer, and police officer Lúcio Lírio Leal were charged with the March 8, 2013, killing of reporter Rodrigo Neto in the city of Ipatinga, Minas Gerais; no trial date has been set, but the two will probably be tried separately because Augusto has appealed the decision to charge him; the prosecutor in the case, Francisco Angelo Silva Assis of the 10th Prosecutor’s Office in Ipatinga, is working hard to ensure that the state’s investigation continues so that masterminds and motives behind the crime may be identified, as at least two other people are suspected to have been involved; and Neto, in his reporting, had denounced crimes involving police officers WHEREAS the killing of news photographer Walgney Assis Carvalho on April 14, 2013, in the city of Coronel Fabriciano, in Minas Gerais, could be related to the killing of reporter Rodrigo Neto in Ipatinga, but Carvalho’s killing has continued to be investigated separately, in Coronel Fabriciano; Alessandro Neves Augusto, charged in Neto’s killing, is also a suspect in the killing of Carvalho; and no one has been charged yet in Carvalho’s killing WHEREAS the man suspected of killing radio personality Valderlei Canuto Leandro on September 1, 2011, in Tabatinga, Amazonas, is behind bars in Leticia, Colombia; in March 2014 the prosecutor in the case, Eleandro Granja Cavalcante da Costa, asked Colombian prosecutors for authorization to interrogate the suspect, but his request was denied, and he will make another attempt in order to further the investigation; and this crime, which occurred at the border between the two countries, is difficult to investigate because the city of Tabatinga is separated from the Colombian city by a river, which makes it easier for criminals to flee WHEREAS the trial of Lailson Lopes, a merchant known as “Gordo da Rodoviária” who is charged in the October 18, 2010, killing of radio journalist Francisco Gomes de Medeiros, aka “F. Gomes,” in Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte, was postponed, and the new trial date was set for April 10, 2014; João Francisco dos Santos, aka “Dão,” was sentenced on August 6, 2013, to 27 years in maximum-security prison for the same crime; four other defendants have been charged, although they have appealed the decision to charge them and are awaiting the court’s ruling; and the only person behind bars is former pastor Gilson Neudo Soares do Amaral, as he is serving time for drug trafficking WHEREAS the Valério Luiz Institute, founded in honor of sportswriter Valério Luiz de Oliveira, who was killed on July 5, 2012, in Goiânia, has assisted in the investigation into the killing; the institute, on its Facebook page, denounced a number of dilatory motions filed by businessman Maurício Borges Sampaio as a way of delaying the verdict in his case; Sampaio, who is charged with masterminding the crime, was the vice president of the Atlético Clube Goianense soccer team and owner of a registry office in the city; according to the institute, the court denied the motions and ordered on March 18, 2014, that final arguments proceed so that Sampaio’s case may be sent to the jury; and Judge Lourival Machado da Costa of the 2nd Criminal Circuit Court of the state of Goiás ordered pretrial detention for another defendant in the case, Marcus Vinícius Pereira Xavier, and ordered that the arrest warrant be submitted to Interpol because the defendant has fled the country WHEREAS the killings of the following journalists remain unpunished: Luiz Otávio Monteiro, December 29, 1988, in Manaus, Amazonas; Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva, August 29, 1995, in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro; Edgar Lopes de Faria, October 29, 1997, in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul; José Carlos Mesquita, March 10, 1998, in Ouro Preto do Oeste, Rondônia; and Mário Coelho de Almeida Filho, August 16, 2001, in Magé, Rio de Janeiro; and the following cases remain unsolved: the killing of Wanderley dos Reis, on October 16, 2010, in Ibitinga, São Paulo, with prosecution of the case now on hold; the death of journalist Nivanildo Barbosa Lima, who was found in the Paulo Afonso reservoir, in Bahia, on July 22, 1995; and the disappearance of Ivan Rocha on April 22, 1991, in Teixeira de Freitas, Bahia WHEREAS the Working Group on Human Rights of Media Professionals in Brazil, which was created by Resolution 7 of October 18, 2012, within the Council for the Defense of Human Beings, as part of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Office of the President of Brazil, submitted its report on March 11, 2014; and the working group, in its report, recommends, inter alia, that the federal executive branch expand the National Protection System to include journalists who are being threatened, in view of the specific circumstances in which these professionals work; that an Observatory on Violence Against Journalists be created to assist not only in documenting cases but also in solving them; and that the Ministry of Justice train law enforcement officers not to seize journalists’ work equipment and memory devices while they are covering events WHEREAS the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), a member of the working group on journalists’ human rights, proposed that federal jurisdiction over crimes against journalists be accomplished through the enforcement of Law 10446/2002; under this law, the Federal Police can take over the investigation of crimes against human rights, including crimes against freedom of expression, regardless of whether they were committed against journalists or anyone else; ABRAJI also pointed to the need for better enforcement of Constitutional Amendment 45/2004, which transfers the responsibility for prosecuting crimes against human rights (including freedom of expression) to the federal justice system; and currently the federal attorney general is the only one who can request such transfer, and, according to the Human Rights Secretariat, only one case has been transferred thus far WHEREAS federal jurisdiction over crimes committed against journalists in the course of their work is also a demand of the National Journalists Federation (FENAJ) WHEREAS Proposed Constitutional Amendment 15 of 2010, which grants federal judges the authority to try cases involving crimes against journalists that occur in the course of their work, has been before the Constitution and Justice Committee of the Brazilian Senate since May 14, 2013, will be placed on the agenda soon; in his report, Senator Vital do Rêgo supported the proposal in the form of an alternate amendment to “expand the list of those authorized to propose the transfer of jurisdiction to the federal justice system”; in this sense, “the criteria of grave violations of human rights accommodate the possibility of transferring the case to the federal justice system, before the Superior Court, at any phase of the investigation or trial—to the minister of justice, to the federal attorney general, to the governor of the state or the Federal District, to the chief justice of the Court of Justice of the state or the Federal District and territories, to the head of the state prosecutor’s office of the Federal District and territories, to the Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association or the Sectional Council of the Brazilian Bar Association” WHEREAS Senate Bill 167 of 2010, which would amend the Penal Code to prioritize the prosecution of cases in which journalists have been killed in connection with their work, was withdrawn from the agenda on August 7, 2013, for reconsideration by Senator Vital do Rêgo WHEREAS Bill 1078/2011, which calls for the participation of the Federal Police in investigating crimes in which the responsible entities have been negligent or ineffective, as well as crimes against journalists, has been awaiting the opinion of the Public Security and Anti-Crime Committee since May 2013 WHEREAS the amicable settlement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has yet to be fulfilled by the Brazilian government in the case of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira, who was killed on January 14, 1998, in Itabuna, Bahia; those who ordered the crime have yet to be identified and punished; and Mozart Brasil, the only person to be convicted for the crime, has made statements on the case that were submitted by the IAPA to the Human Rights Secretariat of the Office of the President of Brazil in February 2012 WHEREAS Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states: “Freedom of expression and of the press are severely limited by murder, terrorism, kidnapping, 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 IAPA RESOLVES To request urgency in the discussion and passage of bills and/or constitutional amendments calling for federal jurisdiction over crimes committed against journalists in the course of their work, in order to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished and that judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and juries are not subject to pressures To request support so that the measures proposed by the Working Group on Human Rights of Media Professionals in Brazil are in fact implemented To request fulfillment of the agreement signed with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to reopen the investigation so that the masterminds behind the killing of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira in Itabuna may be identified and punished To suggest that the criteria for transferring inmates from maximum-security to medium-security prison be reviewed for the purpose of preventing escapes To request efforts to locate and capture those who have fled within Brazil or in border regions, by fulfilling and expanding agreements with other countries To request that the masterminds of crimes, not only the gunmen and intermediaries, be punished.