The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned two murders of journalists in Brazil. Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues was gunned down on the night of 12 February in Ponta Porá, near the border with Paraguay. Four days earlier, Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was abducted and killed with his companion, in Barra do Piraí, Rio de Janeiro state. The Director-General expressed concern over violence against journalists in the country and urged a thorough investigation of these crimes to protect freedom of expression and press freedom.
Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, who was known as Paulo Rocaro, was driving home when two men on a motorcycle shot him dead, according to news report. He was the editor of the local daily Jornal Da Praça and the news website Mercosul News. According to the Paraguayan daily ABC Color, Rocaro had been reporting on local elections when he was killed.
Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes who was abducted in February and shot dead with his companion, Maria Aparecide Guimaraes, was the editor-in-chief of the Vassouras na Net website.
A total of 11 journalists and media workers killed in Brazil since 2002 are now listed on UNESCO’s dedicated webpage, UNESCO remembers assassinated journalists.
UNESCO last year supported a research project on the characteristics and functions of community media operating in violent or difficult areas in Rio de Janeiro. The research results are intended to help community media professionals in their work and in improving their safety. In 2010, UNESCO also organized workshops for 80 community radio professionals from three parts of Brazil including the often neglected Amazon forest region.
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”
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