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Brazilian blogger who covered corruption is slain in São Paulo state

Last week's murder of Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra, a blogger critical of local government corruption, has again drawn attention to the level of violence against news and information providers in Brazil and the need for the authorities to provide them with effective protection.

A lawyer who kept a blog called Ubatuba Cobra, Guerra was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in his home in Ubatuba (in São Paulo state) on 23 December.

Ubatuba's police chief said he did not rule out the possibility that the motive was linked to the victim's work. A link with Guerra's blog posts is one of the hypotheses being considered. Guerra's father told the police that Guerra had received threats.

“We condemn Guerra's murder and we urge the authorities to immediately carry out an independent, impartial and thorough investigation in order to bring those responsible to justice,” said Claire San Filippo, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Americas desk.

“It is vital that the authorities take concrete measures to protect journalists. They must actively combat impunity for violence against news providers, which encourages more violence and is limiting freedom of information in a very dangerous manner.”

Brazil's Human Rights Secretariat issued a report on violence against journalists last March that recommended creating an Observatory for Violence against Journalists in partnership with UNESCO, and putting the federal authorities in charge of investigating crimes against journalists.

It also stressed the need for a justice ministry evaluation of suitable security equipment for protecting journalists when they are covering conflicts.

Brazil is the western hemisphere's third deadliest country for media personnel, with a total of 38 journalists killed from January 2000 to September 2014. The level of violence has worsened in recent years, with at least 10 journalists killed in direct connection with their work in 2012 and 2013.

Almost all of the victims were investigating sensitive subjects such as organized crime, human rights violations or corruption. Most of these murders have gone unpunished.

Brazil is ranked 111th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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