Freedom of Expression

Press release R 133/15

Office of the Special Rapporteur Expresses its Concern Over Killing of Journalist in Brazil


November 18, 2015


Washington D.C. – The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the killing of journalist Israel Gonçalves Silva, which took place on November 10 in Lagoa de Itaenga, in the state of Pernambuco. The Office expresses its concern and urges the Brazilian authorities to act promptly and diligently to clarify the reasons for the murder and identify and punish the perpetrators.


According to the available information, Silva was shot to death inside a store in the center of the city. The journalist had a daily program called "Microfone Aberto" on community radio station Itaenga FM, and was also a municipal guard. Reports indicate that during his program on November 9, Silva had denounced the threats he received. Two suspects reportedly committed the crime.


The Department of Social Protection ordered the Civil Police Chief to appoint a special delegate to investigate the journalist's murder and "entrusted Scientific Police management to commit to the full and speedy execution of the necessary expert examinations."


This is the fifth journalist murdered in Brazil this year, after the murders of Gleydson Carvalho in Ceará, Djalma Santos da Conceição in Bahia, Evany José Metzker in Minas Gerais and Gerardo Servián in Mato Grosso do Sul. This situation is of great concern to the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.


The Special Rapporteur recalls the importance of three positive obligations arising from the rights to life, personal integrity and freedom of expression - to prevent, protect and investigate, to prosecute and criminally sanction those responsible for such crimes. When in a particular country there is a systematic and serious structural situation of violence against journalists and media workers, states should design special protection programs that address these groups.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur considers it essential that the State analyze the hypothesis which states that the cause of this crime is linked to the journalist’s exercise of his freedom of expression, and therefore, identify, prosecute and sanction those responsible, and adopt fair measures of reparation for the victim’s family. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists in the need to create special investigative bodies and protocols, as well as to 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 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.


R 133/15