Freedom of Expression

Press Release R44/11









Washington D.C., May 11, 2011. The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murders of two Brazilian journalists: Valério Nascimento, owner of and reporter for the newspaper Panorama Geral, on May 3rd in Río Claro, in the State of Río de Janeiro, and Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, who worked at TV Vitoria and Radio Metropolitana FM, and was killed on April 9th in Vitoria de Santo Antão, Pernambuco State. The Office of the Special Rapporteur acknowledges the rapid intervention of the Police in an attempt to establish the facts surrounding these crimes, and urges the authorities to thoroughly investigate all evidence that may link the deaths to the victims’ work as members of the media. 


According to the information received, Valério Nascimento was found dead at the entrance to his house, having been shot several times. The journalist had recently launched a new publication, and in the latest edition had exposed alleged irregularities in the local government of the town of Bananal.


In the case of Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, on the night of April 9th two unknown persons allegedly followed the journalist to a restaurant, where he was then killed. According to the information available, the victim was the host of the program "Ação e Cidadania" (Action and Citizenship) on TV Vitoria. He was covering daily police news, and was known for continuously denouncing the acts of criminal gangs and calling local authorities into question. Relatives stated that he had recently received several death threats.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern over the fact that two members of the media have been killed in Brazil in less than a month, for reasons potentially related to the practice of their profession. This Office calls upon the authorities to make every effort necessary to identify the masterminds and perpetrators of these crimes, prosecute them, and, if appropriate, to punish them, as well as to provide fair compensation to the victims’ relatives. The Office of the Special Rapporteur believes that it is essential to combat impunity in order to prevent the repetition of such acts.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur reminds the State that Principle 9 of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states that: "The 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."

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