Impunity Brazil

Midyear Meeting 2018
Medellin, Colombia
April, 13-15
WHEREAS the defense attorney of former military police sergeant Djalma Gomes da Silva—one of five people charged with planning and carrying out the shooting death of sports journalist Valério Luiz de Oliveira on July 5, 2012—asked the court to order psychological testing of Silva by the medical board of the Goiás state courts; for Valério Luiz Jr., the son of the slain radio journalist, this move toward "an insanity defense marks a shift in the defense theory from denial of involvement to one of incompetency, which is an indirect admission to the crime"; the defendants are Maurício Sampaio, Urbano de Carvalho Malta, Marcus Vinícius Pereira Xavier, Ademá Figueredo, and Djalma da Silva; all appeals have been denied, and the defendants are free while they await news on the date of the final ruling; in fact, Maurício Sampaio was reelected president of the Atlético Clube Goianense

WHEREAS Vilmar Acosta Marques, aka "Neneco," the former mayor of the Paraguayan city of Ypejhú, was sentenced in December 2017 to 29 years in prison, plus another 10 years of confinement as a security measure after serving his sentence, for the killing of journalist Pablo Medina and Antonia Almada on October 16, 2014, in Villa Ygatimí, Paraguay, on the border with the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul; Flavio Acosta Riveros, the nephew of Neneco and one of the alleged gunmen who killed Pablo Medina, is in custody in Brazil, and the Brazilian Supreme Court has denied his extradition to Paraguay because his defense attorney submitted a birth certificate showing that Riveros was born in Mato Grosso do Sul; according to the newspaper ABC Color, there is also a birth certificate showing Riveros as having been born in Paraguay, on April 12, 1993, in the city of Ypejhú; Wilson Acosta Marques, the brother of Neneco and the alleged triggerman, remains a fugitive; and the killing was apparently in retaliation for Medina's reporting on the former mayor's ties with drug trafficking

WHEREAS four years after the killing of Jeolino Xavier Lopes, aka "Jel Lopes"—a radio journalist, blogger, former city councilman, and candidate for the federal Chamber of Deputies—in Teixeira de Freitas, Bahia, on February 27, 2014, no one has been punished for the killing; this is the same city where Ivan Rocha, a host on Rádio Alvorada AM in Teixeira de Freitas, disappeared on April 22, 1991, a disappearance that remains unsolved

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 according to the National Council on Human Rights, more than 20 journalists have been killed in the past five years, and there has been an increase in incidents involving threats, assaults, and unjust legal action against journalists, among other forms of physical and verbal intimidation, including attempted censorship and arrests on frame-up charges of "contempt of police" when journalists refuse to leave the scene of an incident or event that they are covering

WHEREAS legislative proposals in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies to establish federal jurisdiction over crimes against journalists and tougher penalties for killing journalists are being considered; these proposals include Senate Bill 329/2016, which would classify the killing of a journalist for reasons related to his or her work as a "heinous crime"; Bill 7107/2014, which would classify 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; and Bill 191/2015, which would amend Law 10446 of May 8, 2002, to have the Federal Police get involved in the event of failure or ineffectiveness of the relevant authorities in investigating crimes against journalism; or Bill 665/2015, which would add a provision to Article 1 of Law 10446/2002 "to provide that, in the event of interstate or international repercussions that require a uniform response of law enforcement, the Federal Police Department of the Ministry of Justice may investigate crimes committed against journalists of radio, television, print media, online, and new media outlets on the basis of their profession with the intent to attack freedom of expression"

WHEREAS human rights organizations are demanding that their representatives—and not only the Office of the Attorney General—be allowed to bring motions for removal of jurisdiction as described in Constitutional Amendment 45/2004 regarding federal jurisdiction over crimes

WHEREAS a public hearing is scheduled for May 8, 2018, in Brasília; this hearing, to be held by the National Council on Human Rights, will discuss strategies for confronting violence against journalists in Brazil and will feature the participation of representatives of government entities and civil society

WHEREAS two state programs and one federal program for protection of human rights advocates have been in the process of being dismantled by funding cuts since 2014, and in 2015 civil society was excluded from the council of the national protection program for human rights advocates

WHEREAS programs to protect human rights advocates must be adapted to handle cases involving journalists who are under threat, in order to ensure that they can continue to do their work safely

WHEREAS January 14, 2018, marked the 20-year anniversary of the killing of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira in Itabuna, Bahia, and this crime has yet to be fully solved, as no one has been identified as having ordered the killing; Mozart Brasil was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his involvement in the killing, while another defendant, Marcone Sarmento, was acquitted; and the amicable settlement signed by the Brazilian government with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calls for the case to be reopened so that all of those involved may be brought to justice

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 request support for the prosecution and sentencing of all of those involved in the killing of journalist Valério Luiz de Oliveira, and for the effort to solve other, older cases that remain unsolved to this day

To request collaboration with the Paraguayan government with regard to the defendant (who is now in Brazil) charged the killing of journalist Pablo Medina

To request that investigations not be limited to identifying and punishing only the gunmen and intermediaries in crimes against journalists, but that investigators and the courts be provided the means to identify and punish the masterminds as well

To request changes in the law or passage of a new law to ensure federal jurisdiction over cases involving journalists killed in the course of their work, so that witnesses and local authorities are not subjected to pressure, and in the event of failure or ineffectiveness of the relevant authorities

To demand that the financial independence of the National Council on Human Rights be ensured and that the Commission on the Right to Communication and Freedom of Expression and the Standing Commission on Human Rights and Public Safety be provided the physical and financial structure they need to do their work

To request urgent implementation of the Observatory of Violence Against Journalists to monitor and prevent such crimes and combat impunity

To request that the participation of civil society and rights advocacy organizations be ensured in implementing the Observatory of Violence Against Journalists, in developing the standard operating procedure for police action in cases involving violence against journalists, and in the national protection program for human rights advocates

To request support for the public hearing to be held by the National Council on Human Rights in Brasília on May 8, 2018, which will discuss strategies for confronting violence against journalists

To request financial resources and support for restructuring the protection programs for witnesses and human rights advocates in all Brazilian states and at the federal level, and to request that changes be discussed in order to include journalists in these programs

To demand fulfillment of the amicable settlement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the killing of journalist Manoel Leal de Oliveira of Itabuna, Bahia, which calls for the case to be reopened in order to identify and punish the mastermind behind the crime, as well as the case of journalist Aristeu Guida da Silva, who was killed in São Fidélis, Rio de Janeiro.