Brazilian journalist killed, second in a week

New York, February 13, 2012–Brazilian authorities must conduct a thorough and swift investigation into the murder of journalist Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, who was gunned down on Sunday night, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. It was the second slaying of a Brazilian journalist in less than week.

The journalist, who was known as Paulo Rocaro, was driving home at around 11:30 p.m. in Ponta Porá, a city near the country’s border with Paraguay, when two men on a motorcycle shot him at least five times, according to news reports. He was the editor of the local daily Jornal Da Praça and the news website Mercosul News, and frequently wrote about local politics, news reports said.

“We are saddened by the killing of Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “The murders of two journalists in such a short time cast a chill on the Brazilian press and make it imperative that authorities fully investigate the crimes, determine the motives, and prosecute those responsible.”

Journalist Cándido Figueredo reported in the Paraguayan daily ABC Color that Rocaro had been highly critical of the local mayor, and supported the campaign of an opposition mayoral candidate. The journalist was leaving a meeting with the candidate when he was murdered, Figueredo reported.

Police officials told reporters they were investigating the crime as a possible contract killing, and were looking into political motives, among others, news reports said.

According to CPJ research, the Paraguayan-Brazilian border is particularly dangerous for journalists. Figueredo, who works on the Paraguayan side of the border in the town of Pedro Juan Caballero, has received numerous death threats in the past decade, and authorities recently intercepted a phone call between criminals in Brazil who threatened to kill him, CPJ research shows.

On Thursday, the body of Brazilian journalist Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was found in the city of Barra do Piraí in Rio de Janeiro state, according to CPJ research. CPJ documented a rise in lethal violence in Brazil in 2011. Two journalists were killed in Brazil last year in direct relation to their work, and four others were killed in unclear circumstances, CPJ research shows.