Newspaper readers throughout the Americas are being urged by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) to sign an open letter to Brazilian president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, asking him to take action to bring all those guilty of the March 30, 2001 murder of journalist Jorge Vieira da Costa in Timon, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão, to justice.
In broadcasts aired by radio station Radio Tropical, Da Costa had exposed wrongdoing in the local municipal government. One afternoon two men on a motorcycle were waiting for him near the home of his ex-wife as he arrived in his car. The men fired four shots at him, hitting him three times. He was rushed to Getúlio Vargas Hospital in critical condition and died there seven days later.
He was the eldest of seven brothers and sisters. He had a 27-year-old son. His radio program was broadcast every afternoon. In the mornings he sold advertising space and at night attended a computer course.
Three of the six persons accused of the crime, officials in the mayor's office, have managed to obstruct justice and the others, already convicted, are awaiting the outcome of an appeal.
The IAPA is waging an international campaign titled "Let's Put an End to Impunity" so that the 349 murders of journalists committed in the last 21 years in the Americas do not go unpunished.
Interactive ads are appearing in some 400 newspapers throughout the Western Hemisphere, inviting the public to go to the Web site http://www.impunidad.com to sign a letter to the president of the country where the crime occurred.
The IAPA's hemisphere-wide anti-impunity campaign, which is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, also consists of investigative reporting programs, training of reporters working in areas of risk and the monitoring of the state of freedom of the press in the Americas.