Reporters Without Borders condemns the murders of two Brazilian journalists in the past four days, one in a Rio de Janeiro suburb and the other in Mossoró, in the northeastern state of Rio Grande do Norte. Both were gunned down on the street.
The first victim was Pedro Palma, the editor of Panorama Regional, a local weekly distributed in the Rio de Janeiro suburbs that has investigative reporting on local corruption. He was shot by two individuals on a motorcycle outside his home in the Rio suburb of Miguel Pedrera on 13 February.
The second was José Lacerda da Silva, a cameraman for regional TV Cabo Mossoró’s TCM programme, who was shot by two individuals in a car as he was going to a Mossoró supermarket last night. He died of his gunshot injuries after being taken to hospital. The police have not as yet identified any suspects or motive.
“We urge the Brazilian authorities to do everything possible to identify those responsible for the murders of these two journalists and to bring them trial,” said Camille Soulier, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.
“These murders are sadly indicative of the dangers to which the media are exposed in Brazil. Five journalists were murdered in 2013 and none of these cases has so far been solved. We fear that more cases will go unpunished in Brazil, which one was one Latin America’s worst performers in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index – ranked 111th out of 180 countries.”
In Palma’s case, the police are working on the theory that the motive was “queima de arquivo” (witness elimination), the theory that was accepted in the murder of Walgney Assis Carvalho, a photographer who was gunned down on 13 April 2013 ().
Whether investigating corruption or covering street protests, journalists are increasingly the targets of violence in Brazil.
The violence that has accompanied the wave of protests that began in June 2013 reached a new peak in the past ten days with TV cameraman Santiago Ilídio Andrade’s death on 11 February from injuries received while covering a demonstration in Rio five days earlier.