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Brazil September 26, 2005
H.E. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva
Office of the President
Palacio do Planalto
Praca do Tres Poderes
10.150-900 Brasilia , DF
Federative Republic of Brazil
Fax: (011.55.61) 411-2222
As a non-partisan media organization dedicated to preserving freedom of expression throughout the world, we write to condemn the July murder of journalist , Candido Amorim Pinto , of Radio Comunitaria Alternativa…and to express our dismay over yet another series of recent events that threaten a free press in Brazil .
The killing of Mr. Amorim Pinto was an especially horrendous act — his motorcycle-riding assailants shot him some 20 times as he parked his car outside his radio station. Beyond the brutality of the act — which is evidence of the intense hatred some individuals have for journalists who express their views — there is its grave impact on investigative reporting in Brazil . As Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, has put it, “An attack on a radio journalist is also an attack on freedom of expression and democracy.”
Mr. Amorim Pinto epitomized the outspoken journalist with his critical reports on nepotism and corruption, a stance which made him the target of numerous threats of violence, and an attempt on his life in May. Mr. Amorim Pinto is not the only journalist in Brazil to pay with his life for critical reporting, and unfortunately your country remains a most dangerous place for members of the media, especially those who try to express themselves freely.
Moreover, other instances of press harassment abound. For example, there is the recent heavy fine levied against journalist, Lucio Flavio Pinto , by Judge Amilcar Guimaraes for “moral damages” against businessman Cecilio do Rego Almeida. Mr. Flavio Pinto had accused the businessman of real estate fraud, a fraud that had apparently been mentioned in an earlier government report. Unable, perhaps, to find fault with Mr. Flavio Pinto’s overall reporting, the judge found fault with a sentence in a story which described Almeida as an “audacious, smart and very well-articulated pirate and owner of lands.” The judge ruled that the sentence was “rude” and lacked “journalistic content.”
There is also the court finding that Elmar Bones , owner of the newspaper, Jornal Ja, was guilty of “insult” and defamation by virtue of an article he wrote about the Rigotto case, an embezzlement case that involved two unexplained deaths.
These instances represent a serious threat to free expression and we urge you to do all in your power to not only bring to justice the killers of Mr. Amorim Pinto but to pay serious attention to all the incidents of press harassment that are a crime against society as well as against the media. Anything less would be an insult to those who value rights and freedoms.
Norman A. Schorr
Freedom of the Press Committee
Rubens Antonio Barbosa
Ambassador of Brazil to the U.S.A.
Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 238-2827
Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
Permanent Mission of the Federative Republic of Brazil
To the United Nations
747 Third Avenue
New York , NY 10017
Fax: (212) 371-5716
John J. Danilovich
U. S. Ambassador to Brazil
Embassy of the United States of America
SES-Quadra 801, Lote 03
Fax: (011.55.61) 3225-9136
Inter American Press Association
1801 SW 3 rd Ave.
Miami , FL 33129