Impunity Brazil


Resolution to the Midyear Meeting

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

April 8 – 11, 2016


WHEREAS the killings of Reinaldo Coutinho da Silva on August 29, 1995, in São Gonçalo, Rio de Janeiro; Edgar Lopes de Faria on October 29, 1997, in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul; José Carlos Mesquita on March 10, 1998, in Ouro Preto do Oeste, Rondônia; and Luiz Otávio Monteiro on December 29, 1988, in Manaus, Amazonas, continue to go unpunished;

WHEREAS further crimes against journalists in the course of their work have occurred after these killings and are still under investigation, and the culprits have yet to be punished;

WHEREAS these cases of impunity include the killing of sports radio commentator Valério Luiz de Oliveira, on July 5, 2012, in the state of Goiás; among those charged in connection with this crime is businessman Maurício Sampaio, president of Atlético Clube Goianense, the soccer team from Goiânia, Maurício Sampaio, president of Atlético Clube Goianense, the soccer team from Goiânia, a post to which he was selected while awaiting, as a free man, the decision on his appeal against the indictment; also charged in connection with the killing are Urbano de Carvalho Malta, Marcus Vinícius Pereira Xavier, and Ademá Figueredo e Djalma da Silva; all of the defendants were ordered to stand trial by jury; they appealed to the Court of Justice of Goiás, and the court denied all appeals, even denying the admissibility of special appeals to the Superior Court and of extraordinary appeals to the Supreme Court; and they filed an interlocutory appeal with the Superior Court seeking to have the other appeals ruled admissible;

WHEREAS the case of Valério Luiz was presented by his son in an October 2015 hearing on human rights violations before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington, DC, at which time the nongovernmental organization Article 19 joined the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism and the Interstate Federation of Radio and Television Workers to file a complaint against the Brazilian state for violating the American Convention on Human Rights and failing to uphold the right to freedom of expression; this complaint was also based on the current situation of systematic violations against journalists in Brazil;

WHEREAS João Valdecir Borba of Difusora 1490 AM, a radio station in São Jorge do Oeste, state of Paraná, was killed on March 10, 2016; Borba hosted musical programs but had asked a short time earlier to be removed from the police reporting beat, and there are unconfirmed accounts that he had received threats; the killing may have been related to his work;

WHEREAS on March 10, 2016, representatives of the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television Stations (Abert), the Brazilian Radio and Television Association (Abratel), the National Newspaper Association (ANJ), the National Association of Magazine Publishers (ANER), and Unesco delivered to Edinho Silva, the chief press secretary of the Brazilian president, a letter condemning the violence against journalists that occurred days earlier at political protests, mainly in São Paulo; they reiterated the need to establish mechanisms to protect journalists in the course of their work;

WHEREAS the press secretary, on his blog post on March 10, 2016 (, recalled the existence of a decree issued in response to attacks on journalists during street protests, that "establishes guidelines on the use of force by public security agents, recommends protective equipment for reporters, and creates a course on journalistic coverage during actions by public security forces";

WHEREAS the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) launched the "SOS Jornalista" project on August 20, 2015, to denounce impunity in crimes against the lives and livelihoods of media professionals; by the end of 2015, SOS Jornalista had received nine reports of threats and notified the local authorities about these threats, but received no response; as of March 26, 2016, the technical cooperation agreement with the National Secretariat of Public Safety had yet to be signed;

WHEREAS on March 7, 2016, the Mass Communication Council of the National Congress—consisting of members of civil society, representatives of media companies, and representatives of radio personalities, journalists, artists, and video and cinema professionals—disseminated a statement expressing their concern over "a trend of increasing violence against media professionals, as previously stated in its Opinion No. 1 of 2016";

WHEREAS the Mass Communication Council supports the passage of Senate Bill 743/2011 authored by Senator Marcelo Crivella (PRB-RJ), Senate Bill 699/2011 authored by former Senator Vital do Rêgo, and Bill 2658/2011 of Representative Lindomar Garçon (PV-RO); these proposed laws deal with the use of bulletproof vests and other personal protective equipment by journalists working in situations that entail risks;

WHEREAS the Task Force on Human Rights for Communication Professionals in Brazil was created by Resolution No. 7 of October 18, 2012, as part of the Human Rights Defense Council, which is under the Human Rights Secretariat of the Office of the President of Brazil; the task force recommended in its March 2014 report to the federal executive branch that the National Protection System be expanded to include journalists who are being threatened, considering the specific circumstances in which journalists work, and, among other measures, that an Observatory of Violence Against Journalists be established; however, this observatory has yet to materialize;

WHEREAS in October 2015, Senator Paulo Bauer (PSDB-SC) submitted Senate Bill 665/2015, which would add a subsection to Article 1 of Law 10446/2002 "to establish that in the event of interstate or international implications that demand a uniform enforcement effort, the Federal Police Department of the Ministry of Justice may investigate crimes committed against media professionals in radio, television, print media, the Internet and new media for reasons related to their work with the intention of violating freedom of expression"; this bill is now before the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee of the Senate, with Ricardo Franco serving as rapporteur;

WHEREAS on February 6, 2015, Bill 7107/2014, authored by Domingos Sávio (PSDB/MG) of the Chamber of Deputies, was returned to the agenda; this bill would "add a paragraph to Article 1 of the Law on Heinous Crimes, Law 8072, of July 25, 1990, classifying as heinous any crime committed against the life, safety and physical integrity of a journalist or media professional in the course of his or her work"; on March 12, 2015, legislator Ronaldo Fonseca (PROS/DF) was designated as rapporteur, and the bill is now before the Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Committee of the Chamber of Deputies.

WHEREAS the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights approved Admissibility Report No. 74/14, Petition 1294-5, regarding Mário de Almeida Coelho Filho, a reporter, photographer and administrative director for the newspaper A Verdade, who was killed on August 16, 2001, in Magé, state of Rio de Janeiro;

WHEREAS an amicable settlement was signed by the Brazilian government with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with regard to the killing of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira on January 14, 1998, in Itabuna, Bahia, and the case was reopened for the purpose of identifying and punishing those who ordered the killing; however, as of March 26, 2016, this has not yet happened;

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"


To ensure the fulfillment of the agreements and measures announced by the Brazilian federal government to monitor and enhance the safety of journalists in accordance with ethics and the right to inform society, including the effective implementation of the Press Observatory and the Commission on the Right to Communication and Freedom of Expression;

To request that measures be taken to identify and harshly punish the perpetrators of threats, assaults and attacks on media professionals in the course of the work, whether these attacks are perpetrated by protesters or members of local, regional or national security forces;

To seek support for the passage of a law establishing federal jurisdiction over crimes committed against journalists in the course of their work in the event of failure or ineffectiveness of the relevant authorities;

To seek support for the passage of laws to help prevent further crimes;

To request the fulfillment of the amicable settlement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights for punishment of the mastermind(s) behind the 1998 killing of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira in Itabuna, Bahia, in view of the fact that Brazil is a signatory to the American Convention on Human Rights and, as such, has been obligated to uphold the provisions of this convention since 1992;

To request that the case of Mário de Almeida Coelho Filho be reviewed so that those responsible for the journalist's killing may be punished;

To request that the "disappearance" of journalist Ivan Rocha of Rádio Alvorada in Teixeira de Freitas, a city in southern Bahia, on April 22, 1991, be recognized as an attack on press freedom, as the journalist's body was found and impunity in this and other cases may have encouraged the continuing attacks on journalists over the past 25 years;

To demand that the necessary material conditions and support be provided so that police chiefs, experts, inspectors and prosecutors can solve open cases involving killings and assaults of journalists, so as to put an end to impunity.