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AUTHORITIES UNDER PRESSURE TO INVESTIGATE JOURNALIST'S MURDER

During a week that has seen one journalist killed and another shot in Brazil, free-expression groups are stepping up pressure on authorities to investigate the crimes and end the impunity surrounding attacks on the press.

Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN (WiPC), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), PERIODISTAS, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) are calling for an immediate investigation into the murder of Domingo Sávio Brandão Lima Júnior, shot and killed on 30 September in the city of Cuiabá, Mato Grosso state.

Brandão, owner and publisher of the daily newspaper, "Folha do Estado," was shot by two unidentified men while surveying the construction of the newspaper's new offices, reports CPJ. The assailants escaped on motorbike. Although police have yet to establish a motive for the crime, Brandão's newspaper says it is linked to the publication's reporting of official corruption, drug trafficking and illegal gambling in Cuiabá, IAPA notes. Brandão also owned a radio station and a construction company.

The murder of Brandão also drew condemnation from Eduardo Bertoni, the Organization for American States' (OAS) Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression. Bertoni says failure to thoroughly investigate journalists' murders has the effect of intimidating other journalists and citizens "since they make them fearful about reporting attacks, abuses and other illicit acts."

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on 4 October that Radio Chibata journalist Felipe Santolia was shot twice and tied to a tree in the city of Teresina, Piaui state, after reportedly planning to charge a local politician with vote buying. Santolia was rescued by local residents who found him strapped with barbed wire after his captors left to search for gasoline to burn him alive [See www.reuters.com].">http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=worldnews%26amp;StoryID=1537385">www.reuters.com].

As Brazilians head to the polls for the second round of presidential elections on 27 October, RSF has urged presidential candidates to support legal reforms to make federal authorities responsible for investigating journalists' murders.

Following a recent fact-finding mission to Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, RSF says the unsolved murders of some 15 journalists killed in Bahia since 1991 point to the fact that local – rather than federal – authorities control police investigations.

The report, "Bahia: Culture of Impunity," examined the official inquiry into the murder of journalist Manuel Leal de Oliveira in Itabuna in January 1998. It found that local police closed the case nine months later without arresting any suspects. Leal, editor-in-chief of the weekly "Itabuna," had published a report accusing the mayor of Itabuna of financial irregularities [See IFEX Alert: www.ifex.org/alerts].">http://www.ifex.org/alerts/view.html?id=8191">www.ifex.org/alerts].

RSF says presidential candidates should adopt a proposed bill authorising federal authorities to investigate murders of journalists and other human-rights crimes.

Visit these links:

- RSF's Report, "Bahia: Culture of Impunity": www.rsf.org">http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=3969">www.rsf.org

- IAPA's Impunity Project: www.impunidad.com">http://www.impunidad.com">www.impunidad.com

- IAPA's 2002 Report on Brazil: www.sipiapa.com">http://www.sipiapa.com/pulications/mid_infbrazil2002.cfm">www.sipiapa.com

- CPJ's 2002 Report on Brazil: www.cpj.org">http://www.cpj.org/attacks01/americas01/brazil.html">www.cpj.org

- OAS Special Rapporteur: www.cidh.oas.org


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