Rio de Janeiro, June 22, 2018–Brazilian authorities should conduct a thorough and credible investigation into the killing of radio journalist Jairo Souza, who was shot dead in northern Pará state yesterday, and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Two unidentified people on a motorcycle shot Souza twice in the back around 5 a.m., as he arrived at Rádio Pérola, a privately owned broadcaster based in Bragança, where he hosted the daily program, “Show da Pérola,” according to local news reports.
Souza, 43, reported on corruption, homicide, and drug trafficking at various radio stations, according to colleagues and news reports. He worked at Rádio Pérola for two years, most recently reporting on alleged corruption in the municipal government.
“The killing of Jairo Souza is a reminder that journalists working outside Brazil’s major urban areas face the highest risk in the country,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick in New York. “Brazilian authorities must act quickly and credibly to send the message that journalists cannot be killed with impunity.”
Local police said in a statement they have yet to establish whether Souza’s death was related to his work. G1 reported that police are examining closed-circuit television footage. A local police official declined to provide CPJ with any details.
Souza’s colleague, Francy Rocha, told CPJ by phone that Souza was previously threatened and attacked, and said the journalist was “always making denunciations, always putting himself at risk.” Rocha said she was unaware if Souza received more threats in the weeks before the shooting.
Rocha added that Souza took precautions, including sometimes using a bulletproof vest and carrying pepper spray.
In 2014, a man tried to hit Souza while he was reporting in a restaurant in the neighboring town of Quatipuru, radio journalist Bené Costa reported on his blog.
State representative Carlos Bordalo, president of Pará state’s Human Rights Defense Commission, condemned Souza’s murder on his blog.
At least 39 journalists have been murdered in retaliation for their work in Brazil since 1992, 27 of them with complete impunity, according to CPJ research.
[Editor’s Note: The spelling of Souza’s name has been corrected throughout this article to match the spelling used by Brazilian authorities.]