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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Fourth radio journalist killed in Brazil this year; a total of 5 journalists have been killed in the country in 2015



Early in the morning on Nov. 10, an unidentified man shot community radio journalist Israel Gonçalves Silva inside a store in Lagoa de Itaenga in Pernambuco state. The journalist had just dropped his children at school. Reports say the man fled via motorcycle without taking anything.

Silva worked at Radio Comunitária Itaenga FM. On his program, residents could call in and make claims to the authorities during the Open Mic session, according to Diario de Pernambuco.

According to a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which was released after the organization spoke with Silva’s colleague, listeners called “about alleged corruption and malfeasance by politicians and police” and Silva “interviewed mayors, city councilmen and state deputies about contentious issues.”

About seven months ago, a listener posted the following review on an unofficial Facebook page for the radio station: “I’m listening to Israel’s program right now, and I want to congratulate it…I wish you the best and I ask you to keep exposing the cases of negligence that have been happening in our city both in the political arena as well as with matters of security.”

In addition to his work at the radio station, Silva served in the Municipal Guard.

The government has appointed a special delegate to investigate Silva’s murder and called for expert examinations to be carried out quickly, according to Diario de Pernambuco. Officials said they are not ruling out a connection to denunciations Silva made on the radio, Jornal do Commercio reported.

Four people have been arrested and some reports have said they are suspected of involvement in the murder case, but police have not confirmed that information.

Colleagues told CPJ and various newspapers that Silva had received death threats.

“He always butted heads with authorities and people would come up to him on the street and tell him he was going to die or that he better be careful because his life was in danger,” colleague Gomes dos Santos told CPJ, according to the organization’s report. “He reported all threats to the police.”

Silva’s brother, who was also his neighbor, told Jornal do Commercio that people had been circling their houses on motorcycles and that someone had made a brick cross in front of the houses earlier this week. He said Silva was afraid.

In a Nov. 12 press release, CPJ called for a thorough investigation of the murder, asked authorities to determine whether it was related to Silva’s work as a journalist and asked for prosecution.

“We are deeply concerned with the alarming increase in lethal violence against journalists in Brazil, which has made this country one of the most dangerous for press in the world,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas.

Brazil ranked 11th in CPJ’s 2015 Global Impunity Index, which lists countries where murderers of journalists go free.

Silva is the fifth journalist, and fourth radio journalist, killed in Brazil this year.

On Aug. 6, two men shot Gleydson Carvalho while he was on air at Radio Liberdade FM in the city of Camocim, Ceará. Paraguayan radio journalist Gerardo Ceferino Servían Coronel was killed in Ponta Porã, Brazil on March 5.  Blogger Evany José Metzker’s decapitated body was found on the outskirts of Padre Paraíso, Minas Gerais on May 18. Community radio journalist Djalma Santos de Conceiçao’s tortured body was found in the state of Bahia on May 23.



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