November 18, 2013
Dilma Vana Rousseff
President of the Federal Republic of Brazil
Palácio do Planalto
Via facsimile: +55-61-3411-1026
Dear President Rousseff:
I write to you from the Committee to Protect Journalists to invite you to speak out against impunity on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity.
Since November 23, 2011, civil society groups around the world have come together annually to demand justice for those who have been targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including journalists, activists, artists, and musicians.
Brazil has recently made substantial gains in the fight against impunity. In the last year, convictions have taken place in two cases. In August, we were pleased to learn that the gunman who shot radio journalist and blogger Francisco Gomes de Medeiros in 2010 was sentenced to 27 years in jail. Several other suspects have been arrested and await trial. Then, in October, Júnior João Arcanjo Ribeiro was convicted of ordering the 2002 murder of Domingos Sávio Brandão Lima, owner, publisher, and columnist for a daily paper known for its coverage of organized crime, making this one of the few cases around the world in which all perpetrators, including the mastermind, have been brought to justice.
These developments represent significant progress toward reversing Brazil’s long-standing record of impunity in journalist murders–Brazil ranked 10th in CPJ’s 2013 Impunity Index–but they also come amid a spike in lethal violence that has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. At least four journalists were killed in 2013, three of them in direct retaliation for their journalism. The victims include radio host and newspaper reporter Rodrigo Neto and his colleague, freelance photographer Walgney Assis Carvalho. Both men covered crime in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais. Meanwhile, nine cases of journalists targeted and killed for their work over the past decade have yet to be solved.
The ongoing cycle of violence and impunity will only come to an end when those who use violence to silence journalists are brought to justice. We believe a strong statement on November 23 to mark the International Day to End Impunity would go far in affirming Brazil’s leadership and long-term commitment to freedom of expression and efforts to reign in impunity. In doing so, Brazil will make a clear and powerful statement against corruption and crime, the two beats for which Brazilian journalists most often face retaliation.
We hope you will join us and the many voices around the world on November 23 in taking a stand for justice.