Sao Paulo, January 18, 2018 – Brazilian authorities should launch a thorough investigation into the murder of reporter Ueliton Bayer Brizon, and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
An unknown assailant on the morning of January 16 shot Brizon dead as he drove his wife to work in the city of Cacoal in Amazonia’s Rondônia state, according to the journalist’s colleagues and news reports.
The suspect shot at the couple’s motorcycle, causing the wife, who was not hit, to fall off, Siderlandio Simões de Oliveira, the president of the local Cacoalense Press Association, told CPJ.
The attacker then shot Brizon three or four times; the journalist was dead when he arrived at the hospital, according to news reports.
CPJ was unable to reach Brizon’s immediate family via Facebook or phone for comment.
“Authorities must conduct a swift and credible investigation into the murder of Brizon and bring those responsible to justice,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said from New York. “The killing of Brizon is a troubling sign after two years of declining cases of journalist murders in Brazil, and a harsh reminder that Brazilian journalists covering local issues still face significant risk for doing their job.”
The officer in charge of investigating Brizon’s death did not return repeated phone calls from CPJ.
However, local news reports said police had made no arrests and were investigating all lines of inquiry.
Brazil’s National Association of Newspapers called for a swift investigation amid concerns that “impunity….is a serious problem in our country.”
Brizon, 35, owned and worked as the sole reporter for Jornal de Rondônia, which focused mostly on local news in Cacoal, a city of around 80,000 people, de Oliveira said.
He was also a member of the Partido Humanista da Solidariedade political partyand a reserve city councilman for the party. He did not hold political office.
De Oliveira and other colleagues said they did not believe Brizon had ever been threatened.
Despite some progress in combating impunity for crimes against journalists and a significant decline in journalist murders in the last two years, the Brazilian media continue to face significant threats. CPJ research shows that 38 journalists have been murdered in direct relation to their work since 1992.