Advocacy group Reporters Without Borders urged Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff this week to ask for stronger measures to ensure journalists’ safety in the country. The move comes after the violent deaths of two reporters last month in Brazil, which ranks among the deadliest countries in the region for journalists.
In a letter published on Reporters Without Borders’ website Monday, the group called on Rousseff to “quickly adopt concrete and effective measures to guarantee the protection of news providers and to combat impunity for crimes of violence against them.” It noted that three journalists have already been killed in Brazil this year.
Two of the most recent victims were killed within a week of each other. Last week, 53-year-old radio reporter Djalma Santos da Conceição, from the eastern state of Bahia, was found dead after being kidnapped from a bar. Police found his body, which bore signs of torture, in a rural area near where he worked. The week before, 67-year-old Evany José Metzker, who ran a blog focusing on corruption and crime in southeast Minas Gerais state, was found decapitated. Last week, Irina Bokova, director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, called on Brazil to investigate Metzker’s death, saying it was “important for society as a whole to prevent those responsible for violent attacks aimed at silencing freedom of the press to remain unpunished.”
Both reporters were known for reporting on sensitive subjects. Santos da Conceição was investigating drug traffickers’ possible involvement in the death of a teenager at the time of his death, while Metzker was said to be working on a story on a child prostitution ring.
In March, two unidentified gunmen also killed a Paraguayan journalist, Gerardo Servian Coronel, in a Brazilian border city.
Reporters Without Borders noted that Brazil was the third-deadliest country in Latin America for reporters, after Mexico and Honduras, based on the number of journalist deaths in the past 15 years. According to the organization, 38 journalists have been killed in the country since 2000, most of whom were directly targeted for their work.