Freedom of Expression

Press Release 58/02


The Office of the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS is deeply concerned about the disappearance of a Brazilian TV reporter for the Globo television network and urges the authorities to begin carrying out an investigation into the case.  Globo has informed the Rapporteur that reporter Tim Lopes, 51, disappeared on June 2, 2002 when he was investigating drug trafficking and sexual exploitation of children in a Río de Janeiro slum. According to the information received, the disappearance of the reporter is related to his work as a journalist. Lopes has won a number of awards for his investigative reporting and received a death threat in September 2001, following publication of an article on drug trafficking.     

The Office of the Rapporteur maintains that the disappearance of a journalist is not a violation of the right to life and to human treatment but also a grave obstacle to the exercise of freedom of expression. Murder, kidnapping, intimidation, or threats against those who work for the media pursue two specific goals. On the one hand, they aim to get rid of journalists investigating abuses or irregularities so that those investigations are never completed and, on the other, they are meant to intimidate investigators in general.  

As stated in Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, “The murder, kidnapping, intimidation of and/or threats to social communicators (…) 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 Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the IACHR, Eduardo Bertoni, calls upon the Brazilian authorities to initiate, as a matter of urgency, an investigation into this occurrence and to punish those responsible. 


Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression
June 6, 2002
Washington, D.C.