Freedom of Expression

Press Release R17/12






Washington D.C. February 13, 2012 - The Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murders of Brazilian reporter Mário Randolfo Marques Lopes and his girlfriend, Maria Aparecida Guimarães, which took place in the early hours of February  9 in Barra do Piraí, state of Río de Janeiro. 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 victims’ family members.


According to the information received, on the night of February 8 at least three unknown individuals apparently kidnapped the reporter and his girlfriend.  The two dead bodies, both with gunshot wounds, were found on the street the next morning in a Barra do Piraí neighborhood. Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was editor in chief of Vassouras na Net, an online newspaper of the town of Vassouras, where he used to strongly criticize and denounce local public officials.  Marques Lopes had been the victim of another attack last July, when he was shot several times.  


The Office of the Special Rapporteur calls upon the Brazilian authorities to adopt all necessary measures to avoid the repetition of these types of crimes, identify and punish all the direct perpetrators and masterminds, and ensure that the victims' families receive adequate reparation.


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."


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.