Press Association Wants Punishment for Killers of Brazilian Journalists

IACHR The IAPA (Inter American Press Association) seeks to end impunity for killers of two Brazilian newspapermen. The organization submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) a formal petition in two cases of journalists murdered in Brazil in 1995 and 2001 that remain unpunished.

The IAPA submitted the results of its investigations into the murders of Nivanildo Barbosa Lima and Jorge Vieira da Costa in order to exhort the inter-American system to advise the Brazilian government to advance the legal process and put an end to the impunity surrounding crimes against journalists.

Barbosa Lima, 27, a reporter with the Paulo Alfonso, Bahia, newspaper Ponto de Encontro, was killed on July 22, 1995. The paper covered topics of popular interest and exposed local execution gangs that proliferated at the time. He had been followed and received phone threats before the assault that took his life.

The IAPA learned through its Rapid Response Unit that the case had been shelved and then reopened with no progress reported. Although the Barbosa Lima case was included in a list of 10 journalists murdered in the 1990s whose memory was honored by the Bahia state government in September, 2009, the crime remains unpunished.

The second IAPA investigation submitted to the IACHR relates to the murder of Vieira da Costa of Radio Tropical in Teresina, Piauí. After receiving threats, Vieira da Costa was attacked on March 23, 2001, and died of his wounds seven days later. Three people were convicted in 2005, but only one is in prison. The alleged masterminds have been successful at stalling legal proceedings and have not been brought to trial.

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, deputy editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, declared, “We hope that with the IACHR acting as intermediary we can open a constructive dialogue with the Brazilian government, which has already demonstrated its agreement and commitment to open new legal cases in other cases of murdered journalists.”

Since 1997 the IAPA has submitted a total of 26 murders of news men and women committed in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay to the IACHR. Eleven cases have been accepted and 12 are under study for admittance.

Of these, the IAPA acts as petitioner in five – in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico – and is working on negotiations for an amicable settlement with the governments concerned.

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