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Knight Center

JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Freelance photojournalist shot dead in Brazil, the second in the same state in just over a month



Walgney Assis Carvalho. Source: Facebook/Estado de Minas

photojournalist was shot to death on Sunday evening, April 14, in the city of Coronel Fabriciano, Minas Gerais, reported Estado de Minas. Walgney Assis Carvalho, 43 years old, was a freelancer for the newspaper Vale do Aço, the same publication where slain reporter Rodrigo Neto worked. Both worked the police beat and were known for denouncing crimes involving law enforcement. This is the fourth case of a journalist killed in Brazil so far in 2013. 

Carvalho was on a fish restaurant when a hooded man approached him and fired thee shots at close range. According to Vale do Aço's website, the photographer was hit in the head and the armpit, and died on the scene

Witnesses told the Military Police that they saw a man near the boat on the night of the crime. After the gunshots, the man left the scene, walked to a motorcycle and fled, reported Terra. 

Deputy Durval Ângelo, president of the Minas Geraid Commission on Human Rights, tweeted that photojournalist could have been killed for having information about Rodrigo Neto's killers. Police have not commented on the hypothesis, reported G1. 

Following the killing of Carvalho, the reporter filling in for Rodrigo Neto decided to leave his job at the newspaper Vale do Aço, according to a statement from the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI in Portuguese).

Impunity

With two killings in just over a month, the debate on impunity for crimes against journalists in Brazil takes on new urgency. In this regard, the Brazil is the third worst in the region, according to Carlos Lauría, Americas program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists

Marcelo Moreira, president of ABRAJI and representative for the International News Safety Institute (INSI) in Brazil, warned that that lack of punishments for these crimes feeds self-censorship. "When you kill a journalist, you're hurting free speech. And if these cases continue and the sense of impunity increases, it is going to spark a negative reaction from journalists who are scared to write because they know they're not protected," she said in a interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

"We have to strengthen the campaign against impunity. It doesn't seem like there is a support network for Brazilian journalists. It's time for [the National Newspaper Association], [the National Federation of Journalists], ABRAJI and other institutions related to the media to create an organization that develops security strategies for journalists," she added, citing INSI in Europe. 

In February, the International Press Institute released a statement calling attention to the problem and urging the Brazilian Congress to approve a bill that would allow federal prosecutors to try crimes against journalists. The bill, however, is not supported by all freedom of expression organizations in Brazil. 



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