CPJ calls on Brazilian authorities to investigate shooting of journalist
April 10, São Paulo: Brazilian authorities should thoroughly investigate the shooting of journalist Ivan Pereira Costa, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure journalists can work without fear of reprisal, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Pereira was hospitalized after a shooting attack on Monday in the small Amazonian town of Cujubim, in the Brazilian state of Rondônia.
Pereira--who runs the local news website Veja Noticias with his wife, Ediléia Santos--was chatting with a neighbor in front of his house at around 8:30 pm on Monday night when an unidentified assailant approached on a Honda motorcycle and opened fire, Veja Noticias reported. The attacker fired five times, hitting Pereira in the arm and stomach, Veja Noticias said. Pereira tried to escape by running in a zig-zag and jumping over a fence. Two police officers later found him hiding, and brought him to a hospital, where he was treated for his injuries and is recovering, Santos told CPJ by telephone and text messages.
"Brazilian authorities must exhaustively investigate the attack against Ivan Pereira Costa, bring all those responsible to justice, and ensure he can continue to do his work," Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas, said from New York. "Throughout Brazil, intolerable violence has been used as a tactic to silence journalists and push sensitive topics out of public discussion."
Police investigating the case said the probe was at an early stage.
"People are killed or shot today for the slightest motive," Thiago Flores, the local police chief leading the inquiry, told CPJ by telephone. "He says it was because of [his journalism], but that is his version. We need to investigate further."
Besides owning and operating the Veja Noticias website, Pereira and his wife also own a charcoal business in the town, which is located 137 miles (220 km) from the state capital of Porto Velho.
Santos told CPJ that the area around the town of around 9,000 people has been beset by land conflicts and violence between peasants and armed men hired by landowners. Pereira wrote about peasant occupations, about hired men torching the peasants' makeshift camps, and about organized crime in the region, according to the Veja Noticias website. Two police officers were arrested in January in connection with the death of one peasant and the disappearance of another, news reports said.
Santos, who also writes for the Veja Noticias site, said they both received anonymous threats earlier this year.
"I have been threatened," she told CPJ. "He was threatened and he knew he was in danger."
Santos also said friends and neighbors had told her and her husband they were covering conflicts they should ignore.
Pereira told CPJ more specific threats were made in telephone calls. "I don't know who would make these threats," he said in a short conversation from his hospital bed.
This attack is at least the second shooting of a Brazilian journalist in the span of two weeks, according to CPJ research. On March 27, Brazilian radio journalist Jair Pereira Teixeira survived after being shot in the northeastern state of Ceará.
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Despite some progress in combatting impunity for crimes against journalists, the Brazilian media continue to face enormous threats. Last year, Brazil was the deadliest country in the Americas for journalists, and CPJ research shows that 36 journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work since 1992.