June 21, 2019

Second journalist murdered in Rio de Janeiro state in less than a month

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is concerned about the vulnerability of journalists in Rio de Janeiro state after local news website editor and reporter Romário da Silva Barros this week became the second journalist to be murdered in the space of a month in Maricá, a coastal city just to the east of the city of Rio de Janeiro.

RSF calls on the authorities to reinforce protection for journalists as a matter of the utmost urgency.


Barros, 31, was gunned down in cold blood on a street in Maricá on the evening of 18 June. Two individuals approached him as he was about to get into his car and fatally shot him three times.


Barros was the founder and owner of Lei Seca Maricá, a website on which he reported local news, especially crime stories. The Rio de Janeiro state police say they think his murder could have been premeditated and politically motivated.


His murder came less than a month after Robson Giorno, the owner of Jornal O Maricá, an online newspaper covering local news and politics, was gunned down in an ambush outside his Maricá home on the night of 25 May.


The perpetrators and instigators of Romário da Silva Barros’s murder must be identified and brought to justice without delay,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “His murder is an attack on free speech and all journalists in the region. They are extremely vulnerable and are working in a particularly dangerous environment that fosters self-censorship. Following these two murders, the authorities in Maricá must take urgent measures to step up protection for journalists.”


According to federal government figures, Rio de Janeiro is Brazil’s deadliest state for journalists. Of the 64 murders of journalists in Brazil since 1998, no fewer than 13 have taken place in Rio de Janeiro state, more than in any other.


Brazil is ranked 105th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2018.