Freedom of Expression

Press Release R140/18

The Office of the Special Rapporteur condemns the killing of journalist in Brazil

June, 29th 2018

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 the radio journalist Jairo Souza on June 21st in the municipality of Bragança, in the state of Pará. This Office urges the Brazilian authorities to investigate the crime with due diligence to determine the killing’s motives and identify and punish those responsible.

According to the information available, Jairo Souza received two shots in the back after arriving at the  radio station where he worked, Pérola FM. The civil police of Bragança indicated that according to preliminary information, two unknown individuals on a motorcycle were reportedly the perpetrators of the crime. While one stayed on the motorcycle, the other fired the shots at the announcer. Souza died in the hospital. According to reports, the police still have not identified any of the perpetrators nor the crime’s motives.

Jairo Souza presented a daily program on Radio Pérola, called "Show da Pérola" in which he denounced local irregularities and transmitted complaints from listeners, according to public reports. Previously, he presented the program "Patrulhão na 106.1" on the Radio Princesa FM, a high-audience program with a similar theme. The journalist was well known in the region for reporting on corruption, drug trafficking and crimes. He reportedly received threats before his death.

The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the Brazilian State of its obligation to investigate the possible relation between this crime and the journalistic work of the victim. An investigation that does not weigh aspects related to the context of the region and the professional activity of the journalist will have less possibilities of achieving results. The Office of the Special Rapporteur insists on the need to create special investigative protocols to ensure the proper investigation of killings of journalists by State authorities.

In addition, the Office of the Special Rapporteur reiterates to the State the need to strengthen the "Protection Program for Human Rights Defenders" extended to journalists and media workers. This mechanism should meet the needs of journalists and be widely disseminated among media workers, so that it can offer effective guarantees to those who are at risk because their journalistic activity.

Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR states that "the murder, kidnapping, intimidation, threat to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of the media, violates people’s fundamental rights and severely restricts the freedom of expression. It is the duty of the States to prevent and investigate these acts, to punish their perpetrators and to assure the victims of adequate reparation."

The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in order to stimulate the hemispheric defense of the right to freedom of thought and expression, considering its fundamental role in the consolidation and development of the democratic system.