Freedom of Expression

Press Release R106/16

Office of the Special Rapporteur Condemns Murder of Journalist in Brazil and Urges the State to Adequate the Protection Mechanism to Media Worker’s Needs

July 28, 2016

Washington D.C. - The Office of The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the July 24 murder of journalist João Miranda do Carmo in the municipality of Santo Antônio do Descoberto, State of Goiás, Brazil. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and urges the Brazilian authorities to act promptly and diligently to determine the motives for the murder and to identify and punish the perpetrators. 

According to the information available, the journalist was shot by unknown persons in the doorway of his house on the night of July 24. Do Carmo had reportedly received threats, and someone had set fire to his car in January 2016. According to the journalist's relatives, he had reported these incidents to the police. João Miranda do Carmo was the owner of the digital media outlet "SAD Sin Censura," in which he published local news and exposés about the city's problems.

This is the third reported murder of a journalist in Brazil this year. On March 10, João Valdecir de Borba was murdered in the municipality of São Jorge do Oeste, State of Paraná, and on April 9, blogger Manoel Messias Pereira, known as Manoel "Benhur," was killed in the municipality of Grajaú, State of Maranhão.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur has reiterated that States have an obligation to adopt measures to prevent violence against journalists and media workers. This obligation is particularly important in the event of threats or acts of violence connected to the individual’s journalistic activities.

The State of Brazil has a "protection program for human right defenders" since 2004, and in 2012 it was extended to journalists and media workers. Nevertheless, this mechanism has not been adequate for the needs of journalists nor was it sufficiently disseminated amongst media workers, something which subtracted effectiveness in offering guarantees to those who are threatened by their journalistic activity. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State to strengthen the protection mechanisms for communicators in all the regions in Brazil and to provide a budget for its functioning.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur recalls that the obligation to conduct the investigation with due diligence and exhaust all logical lines of inquiry is especially important in cases of violence against journalists; an investigation that fails to consider aspects related to the regional context as well as the journalist's professional activity will be less likely to yield results. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists upon the need to create special investigative bodies and protocols.

Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "[t]he murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and strongly restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of the state to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation."

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression was created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to encourage the defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression in the hemisphere, given the fundamental role this right plays in consolidating and developing the democratic system.