BRAZIL


Americas cases 2004: Country List    I   Americas Regional Home Page
How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press


APRIL 20, 2004
Posted April 30, 2004

Samuel Rom„, Radio Conquista FM
KILLED-UNCONFIRMED

At around 6 p.m., four gunmen on two motorcycles shot radio host Rom„ outside his home in Coronel Sapucaia, in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, according to local news reports. Police took the journalist to the municipal hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Rom„ was a host and owner of Radio Conquista FM, based in the Paraguayan town of CapitŠn Bado just across the Brazilian border from Coronel Sapucaia.

The 36-year-old Rom„ was a well-known and outspoken journalist who frequently denounced drug trafficking and crime in the border area, according to the daily Correio do Estado, based in Campo Grande, the state capital. He hosted the one-hour talk show "A Voz do Povo" (The Voice of the People).

According to the daily O Progresso, during several shows before his death, Rom„ had demanded that police investigate several recent murders in the area. In addition, he had recently announced that he had documents proving that important local figures are involved in organized crime, and that he would disclose their names.

On April 22, Paraguayan police arrested three men suspected of killing Rom„ and handed them over to Brazilian police, who sent them to Campo Grande.

CPJ continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the journalistís death. In early April, local police had questioned the journalist about his visits to a clandestine gambling parlor, the news Web site Dourados Agora reported. Rom„ was also a member of the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) and had close ties to local PDT politicians.


APRIL 24, 2004

Posted: April 30, 2004

José Carlos Araújo, Rádio Timbaúba FM
KILLED-CONFIRMED

Radio host Araújo was killed in the town of Timbaúba, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the state capital of Recife in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Two unidentified gunmen ambushed and shot Araújo at around 7:30 p.m. outside his home in Timbaúba, according to local news reports. None of the journalistís belongings were stolen.

The 37-year old Araújo hosted the call-in talk show "José Carlos Entrevista" (José Carlos Interviewing) at Rádio Timbaúba FM. Citing police sources, the Recife-based daily Diário de Pernambuco said that Araújo had made several enemies in Timbaúba after denouncing the existence of death squads run by criminal gangs and the involvement of well-known local figures in murders in the region.

According to the Recife daily Folha de Pernambuco, on April 28, police captured Elton Jonas Gonçalves de Oliveira, one of the suspected assassins, who confessed to killing Araújo because the journalist had accused him on the air of being a criminal. Folha de Pernambuco quoted Timbaúbaís police chief as saying that Gonçalves claimed that he did not commit all the crimes the journalist accused him of and resented Araújo for giving him a bad reputation.



MAY 11, 2004
Posted: May 12, 2004

Larry Rohter, The New York Times

EXPELLED

The Brazilian Ministry of Justice decided to revoke the visa of New York Times Brazil correspondent Rohter after he wrote an article about the drinking habits of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as "Lula." Rohter is currently abroad, according to local news reports.

A short press release posted on May 11 on the Ministry of Justice's Web site and signed by Interim Minister of Justice Luiz Paulo Teles Ferreira Barreto, said officials had decided to cancel Rohter's visa under Article 26 of Law 6815 due to "a frivolous and misleading report that is offensive to the honor of the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil with grave damage to the image of the nation abroad."

Under Article 26 of Law 6815, an immigration law that defines the legal status of foreigners in Brazil, the arrival, stay, or registration of a foreigner may be blocked if the Ministry of Justice deems his or her presence in the country "inconvenient."

In a New York Times article published on May 9 titled "Brazilian Leader's Tippling Becomes National Concern," Rohter wrote that some Brazilians were concerned that Lula's alleged heavy drinking was affecting his performance in office. In the article, Rohter also cited Lula's staff and supporters, who dismissed speculation that Lula drinks excessively.

The article generated a strong reaction from the Brazilian government. In a letter to the editor sent yesterday to The New York Times, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Roberto Abdenur wrote, "President Lula da Silva is a respected leader and statesman in Brazil and all over the world." Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "This is not about freedom of speech. ... We never acted against anyone who criticized Brazil's internal or foreign policy, but it is another thing to offend the honor of the chief of state."

MAY 11, 2004
Posted: May 17, 2004

Larry Rohter, The New York Times
LEGAL ACTION

The Brazilian Ministry of Justice decided to revoke the visa of New York Times Brazil correspondent Rohter after he wrote an article about the drinking habits of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as "Lula." Rohter is currently abroad, according to local news reports.

A short press release posted on May 11 on the Ministry of Justiceís Web site and signed by Interim Minister of Justice Luiz Paulo Teles Ferreira Barreto, said officials had decided to cancel Rohterís visa under Article 26 of Law 6815 due to "a frivolous and misleading report that is offensive to the honor of the President of the Federal Republic of Brazil with grave damage to the image of the nation abroad."

Under Article 26 of Law 6815, an immigration law that defines the legal status of foreigners in Brazil, the arrival, stay, or registration of a foreigner may be blocked if the Ministry of Justice deems his or her presence in the country "inconvenient."

In a New York Times article published on May 9 titled "Brazilian Leaderís Tippling Becomes National Concern," Rohter wrote that some Brazilians were concerned that Lulaís alleged heavy drinking was affecting his performance in office. In the article, Rohter also cited Lulaís staff and supporters, who dismissed speculation that Lula drinks excessively.

The article generated a strong reaction from the Brazilian government. In a letter to the editor sent yesterday to The New York Times, Brazilian Ambassador to the United States Roberto Abdenur wrote, "President Lula da Silva is a respected leader and statesman in Brazil and all over the world." Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim was quoted by The Associated Press as saying, "This is not about freedom of speech. ... We never acted against anyone who criticized Brazilís internal or foreign policy, but it is another thing to offend the honor of the chief of state."

On May 12, Sérgio Cabral, a senator who belongs to the governing coalition in Congress, petitioned Brazilís Superior Tribunal of Justice (STJ) to annul the decision revoking Rohterís visa. Cabral argued that the governmentís action constituted a violation of press freedom and of the journalistís right to freedom of expression, both guaranteed under the Brazilian Constitution.

On May 13, STJ Judge Francisco Peçanha Martins granted Rohter permission to work in Brazil while a 10-judge STJ panel examines the merits of Cabralís petition. In addition, Judge Peçanha ordered the government to submit additional information about its decision within 72 hours.

After the government revoked Rohterís visa, officials stated that Rohter, who is currently outside Brazil, would be notified of the cancellation of his visa upon entering the country and would then have eight days to leave.

The Brazilian government agency that provides the executive branch with legal counsel announced that it would not challenge Judge Peçanhaís decision.

But on Friday, May 15, the Brazilian government dropped its threat to expel Rohter, restoring the journalistís visa. The Ministry of Justice made its decision after receiving a letter from Rohterís Brazilian lawyers stating that he had not meant to offend da Silva and expressing regret for any embarrassment the report may have caused.


JULY 11, 2004
July 14, 2004

Jorge Lourenço dos Santos, Criativa FM
KILLED—UNCONFIRMED

Dos Santos, radio owner and host, was killed in Alagoas State in northeastern Brazil. CPJ is investigating whether the slaying was related to his work as a journalist.

Dos Santos was killed at about 7:30 p.m. outside his home in the town of Santana do Ipanema, 125 miles (200 kilometers) from Maceió, Alagoas State capital, according to local press reports. A man shot dos Santos four times and fled in a car. The journalist was taken to a local hospital but died shortly after arriving.

The 59-year-old dos Santos owned the radio station Criativa FM, which was based in his home, and hosted a show in which he frequently criticized local politicians and businessmen. Local police have confirmed that the journalist had received death threats and had been the target of two attempted killings, according to the Maceió-based daily Gazeta de Alagoas. No suspects have been detained.

According to the Folha news agency, police are investigating whether dos Santos' murder was politically motivated. In addition to his work at the radio station, dos Santos was involved in politics, having run for council in the nearby town of Major Isidoro in 1996 and 2000. Dos Santos' wife is running for council in local elections in October 2004. His family believes that local politicians hired the assassin, Gazeta de Alagoas reported.

During the last two years, CPJ has documented the slayings of two other radio journalists in Brazil's northeast region who were killed for their journalistic work. CPJ continues to examine the cases of two journalists who have been killed over the last two years in the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul, in the central west region of Brazil.