Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 34/15

PRESS RELEASE

 

R 34/15

 

THE OFFICE OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR CONDEMNS KILLING OF PARAGUAYAN JOURNALIST IN BRAZIL

 

Washington, D.C., March 23, 2015. Ė The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of Gerardo ServiŠn, Paraguayan journalist of community radio station Ciudad Nueva FM of Zanja Pyt„, which took place on March 5 in Ponta Por„, a small town at the border state of Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern and urges the Brazilian authorities to act promptly and timely to establish the motive of the crime and to implement all the legal instruments available to identify the perpetrators behind this crime.

 

According to the information received, ServiŠn (45) was gunned 200 hundred meters (650 feet) from the frontier by two men driving a motorbike while he was also on a moped. The journalist received several shots. ServiŠn hosted a newscast in Guarani language.

 

The Office of the Special Rapporteur asks the authorities of Brazil and Paraguay to establish efficient measures to protect journalists in both countries, especially in the border zone that they share. This is the second killing in less than a year in the area surrounding the town of Pedro Juan Caballero, department of Amambay, Paraguay, which is next to Ponta Por„. In May 2014, journalist Fausto Gabriel Alcaraz was murdered in that Paraguayan city.

 

The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the State to clarify the motive for this crime; identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible; and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim's family. It is also important to determine if the crime was related to his activity as a journalist.

 

The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists that the State needs to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as guarantee the effective inclusion of those who are being threatened because of their work in journalism in protection mechanisms designed to ensure their safety.

 

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.