Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 11/14


R 11/14





Washington, D.C., February 12, 2014 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the attacks followed by the death of Santiago Ilídio Andrade, a cameraman from Rede Bandeirantes television network. The journalist died after an attack against him last February 6, while he was covering a protest in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Due to the seriousness of the attack, he was declared brain dead on February 10. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and requests that the authorities conduct a prompt and diligent investigation to establish the motive of this attack, identify and appropriately punish the perpetrators.


According to the information received, on February 6, while covering a protest against a bus fare increase in Rio de Janeiro, Andrade was hit in the head by an explosive device that caused him a cranial injury. Since his admission in the hospital, Andrade had been in an induced coma. However, he was confirmed brain dead on February 10 by the Municipal Department of Health of Rio de Janeiro. The journalist subsequently died.


Since the attack was known, there were conflicting reports as to who was responsible. One of the reports blamed security agents, while others blamed protesters. The information received indicates that the Police have arrested two persons allegedly involved in the events. President Dilma Rousseff, the State governor, and Rio de Janeiro mayor, strongly condemned the attack. The President also requested the Federal Police to help with the investigations of the case.


The Joint Declaration on Violence against Journalists and Media Workers in the Context of Protests, adopted in 2013, indicates that in contexts of manifestations and situations of intense social conflict, the work of journalists, along with the free flow of information "is essential to keeping the public informed of the events. At the same time, it plays an important role in reporting on the conduct of the State". For this reason, the authorities must provide the journalists with the maximum degree of protection, condemn the attacks perpetrated against them, investigate, and sanction those responsible.


Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "[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.