Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 56/15



R 56/15





Washington, D.C., May 28, 2015. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of journalist Djalma Santos da Conceição, found dead on May 23 with 15 shots and signs of torture in a rural area of Conceição da Feira, 110 kilometers far from Salvador, state of Bahia, 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 murder and establish if the crime is linked to the exercise of freedom of expression. This is the third killing of a journalist in Brazil in 2015 and the second one in less than ten days: in mid-May journalist Evany José Metzker was found decapitated in the state of Minas Gerais and in March Paraguayan journalist Gerardo Servián was killed in the border state of Mato Grosso do Sul.


Furthermore, the Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the State to implement all the legal instruments available to identify the perpetrators and masterminds behind the crime.


According to the information available, Santos da Conceição was the host of "Acorda Cidade" in community radio RCA FM, where he made controversial comments and reported on local corruption and crime. The journalist was popular and had already received death threats in the past in several occasions. Even more, reports affirm that Santos da Conceição had been threatened on the same day he was kidnapped at night from a bar by three hooded men, on May 22.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential for the State to clarify the crime motive, identify, prosecute, and punish those responsible, and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim's family. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists once more 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.