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TWO JOURNALISTS KILLED IN ONE WEEK

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF) have urged authorities in Brazil to conduct thorough investigations into the deaths of two journalists who were murdered last week.

On 24 July 2006, 73-year-old freelance journalist Ajuricaba Monassa de Paula was beaten to death in Guapirimim, Rio de Janeiro state, reported RSF. Monassa was arguing with a relative of Osvaldo Vivas, a councillor he had accused of questionable administrative practices. Vivas intervened and began hitting Monassa until he collapsed, according to RSF.

Monassa was a freelance writer for several magazines and websites, and was a constant critic of the municipal government, whom he accused of lacking in transparency and breaking promises, RSF noted. Monassa was affiliated with the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and was a member of the local opposition.

In São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo state, Manoel Paulino da Silva was gunned down by unidentified men on 20 July, reported IAPA. Da Silva was the founder and owner of the newspaper "Hoje Jornal", whose directors told IAPA that Da Silva had neither received any threats nor published information that could have provoked the shooting. Local police said they were not ruling out the possibility that the murder was connected to Da Silva's work as a newspaper owner.

Although Brazil's constitution guarantees free expression and prohibits censorship, the country is a dangerous one for the press, says the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Four journalists have been killed for their work in the past five years, with most of the attacks taking place in the country's vast interior, where corruption and drug trafficking are prevalent and local governments often weak. In most of these cases, no one has been prosecuted.

Recently, several journalists in Brazil have survived assassination attempts or received death threats. Vilmar Berna, editor of a newspaper covering environmental issues in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro state, has received death threats since May, says RSF. In his publication "Jornal do Meio Ambiente, Berna revealed the illegal use of fine-mesh nets in Rio de Janeiro bay. It wasn't until media reported on the threats that local judicial authorities took up Berna's complaint on 5 July, almost a month after he filed it with police.

In São Sebastião, gunmen stormed the offices of the daily newspaper "Imprensa Livre" on 18 May, beat employees and set fire to that day's print run, reported RSF and CPJ. The attackers told employees that the newspaper should stop reporting on Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC), a local gang authorities have blamed for a wave of violence in São Paulo that has left at least 170 people dead since May. The newspaper's director said the attack "will not silence our editorial line."

On 2 May, community radio presenter Camelo Luís de Sá was shot twice in the arm while presenting his programme in the northeastern town of Quiterianópolis, Ceará state, reported RSF. Witnesses identified the gunman as Antônio Valceni Vieira, the son of Quiterianópolis mayor Francisco Vieira Costa, a member of the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party.

Visit these links:
- RSF: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=18399
- IAPA: http://www.sipiapa.com
- IAPA Report on Brazil: http://www.sipiapa.com/pulications/informe_brazil2006.cfm
- CPJ: http://www.cpj.org/attacks05/americas05/brazil_05.html
- Human Rights Watch Briefing on Brazil: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/brazil12204.htm
- ABRAJI: http://www.abraji.org.br/
- OAS: http://www.cidh.org/Relatoria/showarticle.asp?artID=672&lID=1
- BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/5173830.stm

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