Freedom of Expression

Press Release R102/11






Washington D.C., September 15, 2011 —The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of Brazilian radio reporter Vanderlei Canuto Leandro, which took place on September 1 in Tabatinga City, state of Amazonas. The Office of the Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to conduct a prompt and diligent investigation to establish the motive of the crime, identify and appropriately punish the perpetrators, and provide adequate reparations to the victim's family members.


According to the information received by the Office of the Special Rapporteur, unknown persons on a motorcycle fired shots at the journalist when he was returning to his home at night. Vanderlei Canuto Leandro was the host of the program "Señal Verde," from the bilingual radio station Radio Frontera, in Tabatinga, on the border of Brazil with Colombia and Peru, and he was well-known for his reports on alleged acts of corruption in the local municipality. Last May, the journalist presented a report before the Office of the Public Prosecutor for grave death threats against him, allegedly sent by a municipal authority. The Police are investigating the crime but so far have not identified possible suspects.


Vanderlei Canuto Leandro is the fifth journalist killed in Brazil in 2011 for reasons that may be linked to their professional activities. In addition of this homicide, during 2011 the following reporters have been murdered in Brazil: Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, killed on April 9 in Vitoria de Santo Antão, Pernambuco State; Valério Nascimento, on May 3 in Rio Claro, in the State of Rio de Janeiro; Edinaldo Filgueira, killed on June 15 in the town of Serra do Mel, in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, and Auro Ida, shot to death on July 22 in Cuiabá Mato Grosso state. In addition, on March 23, journalist and blogger Ricardo Gama survived an attack in which he was shot three times, in Rio de Janeiro.


The Office of the Special Rapporteur expresses its concern regarding these crimes and calls upon the authorities to adopt all necessary measures to avoid the repetition of these types of crimes, identify and punish the direct perpetrators and masterminds, and ensure that the victims' families receive due compensation.


The ninth principle of the IACHR Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression states: "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."