Another Vale do Aço journalist gunned down in Brazil

New York, April 15, 2013–Brazilian authorities must bring to justice the assailants involved in the murder of a crime photographer on Sunday night, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Walgney Assis Carvalho was a freelance photographer who contributed to the daily Vale do Aço in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais.

An unidentified assailant walked up to Carvalho, 43, shot him at least three times, and rode away on a motorcycle, according to news reports. The journalist was eating at a fish restaurant in the municipality of Coronel Fabriciano, the reports said.

Durval Ângelo, a state congressman and president of the State Assembly’s human rights commission, posted on Twitter today that authorities should investigate a possible link between Carvalho’s murder and that of Vale do Aço journalist Rodrigo Neto on March 8, according to news reports. The congressman said that Carvalho had apparently told people he knew who had murdered Neto, but did not offer further details.

Fernando Benedito Jr., a local journalist and friend of Neto, told CPJ in an email, “Like Rodrigo, he [Carvalho] knew too much.”

Neto had covered police corruption throughout his career, and had frequently received threats, especially for his coverage of cases in which police officers were suspected of being involved in local murders. Local journalists told CPJ that the local press corps had formed the “Rodrigo Neto Committee” to investigate the murder and keep pressure on authorities to solve the case.

Vale do Aço reported that Carvalho also did photography work for the local police.

Police said they were investigating the murder, but that it was too early to link the two deaths, news reports said.

“We are saddened by the murder of Walgney Assis Carvalho and send our condolences to his family and colleagues,” said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. “Authorities must fully investigate this crime, including any possible link to the murder of Rodrigo Neto. Failure to bring those responsible to justice in both crimes would be symbolic of Brazil’s unacceptable impunity rate for journalist murders. Authorities must act now.”

A spike in lethal violence has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world, according to CPJ’s book, Attacks on the Press. In 2012, the second consecutive year, Brazil appeared on CPJ’s Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and the killers go free. The country was also named to CPJ’s Risk List, which identified 10 places where press freedom suffered in 2012.