Press organizations condemn killing of Brazilian journalist; impunity debates revive

National and international press organizations condemned the killing of Brazilian journalist Décio Sá that occurred the night of Monday, April 23, and groups criticized the increase in impunity of crimes against the Brazilian press.

Sá, age 42, worked 17 years as a political reporter for the newspaper O Estado do Maranhão and wrote about crime and corruption on his blog, one of the most popular ones in the state of Maranhão.

The Inter-American Press Association and Reporters Without Borders said that authorities need to make sure that journalists can work freely when investigating corruption cases. "We hope that this killing will serve as a warning for authorities of the region about the danger that reporters are exposed to," said Reporters Without Borders in statement.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said that this is the second year in a row that Brazil appears in its Impunity Index. Last week, the CPJ wrote to President Dilma Rousseff expressing concern about the history of unsolved crimes and for the recent measures taken by the Brazilian government which "contradict government's assumed commitment to guarantee freedom of expression and to prioritize human rights," like the decision to block the UN's proposal to promote journalists' safety.

The Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism also expressed concerned about the increasing violence against journalists in Brazil. "Crimes that seek to silence a journalist are a serious attack on freedom of expression," the organization said in a statement.

The National Federation of Journalists, the Union of Professional Journalists of São Luis, and the Union of Broadcasters of Maranhão called on the Brazilian Congress to approve a bill that federalizes crimes committed against journalists. The Brazilian Press Association and the National Newspaper Association also deplored the killing and urged authorities to take action.

Violence against reporters last year made Brazil fall 41 places in the freedom of expression ranking released by Reporters Without Borders. According to the International News Safety Institute, in 2011, Brazil was the eighth-most dangerous country in the world for journalists. Now, in 2012, it occupies second place in the ranking.