Freedom of Expression

Press Release R 157/14


R 157/14



Washington, D.C., December 30, 2014 – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of journalist and blogger Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra, which took place in the city of Ubatuba, state of São Paulo, Brazil. The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its deep concern and urges the Brazilian authorities to act urgently to establish the motive of this crime and to investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators and masterminds responsible for this murder.

According to the information received, Leopoldo Guerra was reportedly killed in his house by two unknown persons who shot him on the night of December 23. The assailants later fled on a motorcycle. The journalist exposed cases of corruption and criticized local authorities on his blog Ubatuba Cobra. According to persons close to Leopoldo Guerra, the blogger had been receiving death threats because of the reports published on his blog.

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. 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.