November 15, 2018

Press Freedom

Brazil

OPC Calls Murder of Decio Sa A Threat to Brazilian Democracy

H.E. Dilma Vana Rousseff
Office of the President
Palacio do Planalto
Praca do Tres Poderes
10.150-900  Brasilia, DF
Federative Republic of Brazil

Your Excellency:

It was with shock and then with numbness that we learned of the murder of our colleague, Décio Sá, on April 23.

According to reports, Sá was sitting in a bar last Monday night in Sao Luis awaiting a friend when an unidentified man walked into the place and proceeded to the rest room.  When he returned, the man shot Sá six times before fleeing with a motorcyclist waiting outside.

From what local police have said, Sá’s murder was a contract killing.  Investigators immediately began looking over Blog do Décio, Sá’s blog, widely known for its unflinching reporting about crooked politicians.  The blog and Sá’s other work as a political journalist these last 17 years at O Estado do Maranhão made him many enemies, according to his friend, Cezar Scanssette, a journalist with O Estado do Maranhão.   Indeed, the day he was murdered, Sá blogged about the trial of gunmen implicated in a contract killing arranged by a local businessman from a prominent political family in Sao Luis.  For now, police are said to be investigating a link to another case in which a Sao Luis politician is accused of involvement in a prostitution ring and the murder of a university student, a story that Sá reported aggressively.  Sá leaves behind a pregnant wife and an eight-year-old daughter.

Brazil, as you must know, leads Latin America in the murder of reporters this year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.  Sá’s colleagues, not only in Brazil, but around the world, have been driven almost to despair by the seeming impunity with which these killings are accomplished.  Only last February, two Brazilian journalists were murdered in one week. To date, no one has been arrested in either case.

Brazil’s economic success and growing prominence among the world’s great nations are discussed with excitement everywhere one goes these days.  The murder of journalists like Décio Sá is a threat to that ascent, carrying within it the subversion of a necessary condition of national success: an aggressive press and guarantees of free expression.

At a minimum, Your Excellency, that should include protection from murder.

Respectfully yours,

Kevin McDermott
Larry Martz
Freedom of the Press Committee

cc:

Cezar Scanssette
Dados Do Jornal
Av. Ana Jansen, 200
São Francisco, CEP: 65076-902
São Luís
Brazil
Fax: (011 55.98) 32.15.50.54

H.E. Mauro Vieira
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

Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeira Viotti
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the United Nations
747 Third Avenue
New York, NY  10017
Fax: (212) 371.5716

H.E. Thomas A. Shannon, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to Brazil
Embassy of the United States of America
SES-Quadra 801, Lote 03
70403-900 Brazilia, DF
Brazil
Fax: (011.55.61) 32.25.91.37/ 36

Ascanio Seleme
O Globo
Rua Irineu Marinbo #35 News
Viarro Cidade Nova 1801
Rio de Janeiro  20230 901
Brazil
Fax: (011.55.21) 25.34.55.10

Roberto Gazzi
O Estado de Sao Paulo
Av. Engenheiro Caetano Alvaez 55, 6 andar Bairro Limao
Sao Paulo  02590 900 S.P.
Brazil
roberto.gazzi@grupeoestado.com.br

Maria Otero
Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC  20520