Gunmen attack Brazilian journalist’s house, car at night

New York, May 1, 2012–Brazilian authorities must immediately investigate an attack on a radio journalist’s home on Saturday and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Vinícius Henriques and his family were asleep during the attack, and no one was injured, according to news reports.

Unidentified gunmen shot at the front of Henriques’ house at 3 a.m. on Saturday in João Pessoa, the capital of the northeastern Paraíba state, according to news reports. Neighbors told local journalists they saw men on motorcycles waiting outside the house for almost an hour before firing several times and riding away, the reports said. The attack damaged the front of the house as well as the journalist’s car, news reports said.

Henriques, a former police officer, has worked for more than a decade with local radio station Arapuan FM, where he covers the police beat for the program “Rota da Notícia,” news reports said. Henriques told reporters that he suspected members of organized crime were behind the attack and that it was linked to one of his reports. “I don’t want to attribute this attack to anyone, but I was the target, and it was done to intimidate me, because I speak the truth. I am not afraid of anything or anyone,” news reports quoted him as saying.

Brazil has recently suffered a wave of anti-press violence. Three journalists have been murdered in the country in 2012, at least one in direct relation to his work, according to CPJ research. Brazil appeared for the second consecutive year on CPJ’s 2012 Impunity Index.

“The recent increase in anti-press violence in Brazil is very troubling, particularly in light of authorities’ struggles to bring justice in these cases,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Brazilian authorities must ensure the safety of critical journalists, and they can send a clear message of their intentions by fully investigating this attack against Vinícius Henriques.”

News accounts reported the day of the attack that a journalist working for a TV station affiliated with Arapuan FM was identified as a potential target of a drug trafficker. Brazil’s state secretary of security said that police had heard on a wiretap that Anacleto Reinaldo, a journalist for TV Arapuan, was on the hit list of a local drug trafficker. The official said the drug trafficker was allegedly angry with Reinaldo’s reports on his activities. It is not clear whether the two incidents are linked.