New York, November 7, 2011–Brazilian television cameraman Gelson Domingos da Silva was shot and killed Sunday during a confrontation between state police and suspected drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro, according to press reports.
“We are saddened by the killing of Gelson Domingos da Silva,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ Senior Americas Program Coordinator. “His death illustrates the grave risks facing reporters covering crime in Brazil and elsewhere in the region. Police should do their utmost to identify the person who fired the fatal shot.”
Press reports said Domingos, a veteran cameraman for the network Bandeirantes, had accompanied police on an early-morning raid at the favela, or shantytown, known as Antares. Footage from Domingos’ camera shows he was struck amid an intense exchange of fire between police and the suspects. Officials said the 46-year-old cameraman was struck by a shot to the chest fired from a high-powered assault rifle. Press reports said that Domingos was wearing a bullet-resistant vest, but it was not strong enough to withstand the blast.
Four suspects were killed and nine arrested in the raid, which also netted weapons, drugs, and money, press reports said. No police fatalities were reported. Officials said they were trying to identify the person who shot Domingos.
Eighteen other Brazilian journalists have been killed for their work since 1992, according to CPJ research. Although many have been murdered in lawless provincial areas where government is weak, journalists in urban centers such as Brasília, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro face risk when they report on organized crime, drug trafficking, or political corruption.
Favelas are fertile ground for drug traffickers and dangerous zones for reporters. According to Brazilian press reports, powerful gangs control most of these neighborhoods in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. As Rio prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, officials have stepped up anti-gang operations.