São Paulo, July 26, 2016–Brazilian authorities should conduct a thorough and timely investigation into the murder of Brazilian journalist João Miranda do Carmo, establish the motive for his killing, and bring all those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
At least two men in a car parked next to do Carmo’s house in Santo Antônio do Descoberto, a small town roughly 30 miles west of the capital, Brasilia, the night of July 24 and shouted his name, according to local news reports. When do Carmo appeared, they shot him seven times in the chest and sped off in a red Fiat Palio, according to press reports. He died instantly. Do Carmo edited a pugnacious news website called SAD Sem Censura (Santo Antônio do Descoberto Uncensored, by the town’s acronym).
“We call on authorities to conduct a swift and credible investigation into the murder of do Carmo and bring those responsible to justice,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Rob Mahoney said. “More journalists were killed for their work last year in Brazil than any other country in the Americas. The killing of do Carmo shows that the risk to reporters has not abated.”
Do Carmo had told police that he had been threatened at least twice. He spoke to police in May 2014, when his car was set on fire, and again in February this year, when he reported having received death threats, Gilson Ferreira, a police spokesman with access to his records, told CPJ by telephone from the state capital, Goiânia. Ferreira said the journalist did not specify who was threatening him.
The president of the Goiás State Union of Professional Journalists also told CPJ that do Carmo had angered local authorities with his outspoken reporting.
“He was very controversial in his city, he demanded answers from politicians, police, and local officials,” Claudio Curado told CPJ via telephone. “We believe the crime has a political component. He questioned local politicians.”
Ferreira, the police spokesman, also said do Carmo had been accused of defamation and other offenses three times.
On his website, do Carmo had recently criticized the city’s unpaved roads, a local tax on garbage collection, and had featured complaints from local municipal employees that they were not being paid on time.
News reports said police were investigating whether the crime was a contract killing.
The National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) said do Carmo was a member of the Communist Party of Brazil and Curado said the 54-year-old journalist planned to run in municipal elections later this year.
Despite some progress in combatting impunity for crimes against journalists, the Brazilian media continue to face enormous threats, with independent journalists outside of the major cities particularly vulnerable, CPJ research shows. In 2015 alone, six Brazilian journalists were killed for their work, and another two journalists were killed in unclear circumstances. CPJ research shows that 38 journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work since 1992.