April 25, 2012

Federal Minister of Justice
Exmo. Ministro
Sr. José Eduardo Cardozo
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco “T”, 70712-902 – Brasília/DF Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3322 6817/ 3224 3398

Federal Human Rights Secretary

Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
Exmo. Secretário Especial
Sra. Maria do Rosário Nunes
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco “T” – 4º andar, 70064-900 Brasília/DF – Brasil
Fax: + 55 61 3226 7980

Dear Minister and Secretary,

On behalf of the 3,000 members of PEN American Center, an international organization of writers dedicated to protecting freedom of expression wherever it is threatened, we are writing to express our extreme alarm regarding the death of journalist Décio Sá in what is suspected to be a contract killing.

According to our information, on April 23, 2012, Décio Sá (42), journalist for O Estado do Maranhão, was shot six times in the head and back by an unidentified man in a bar in Sao Luis. He went outside to take a phone call and was gunned down when he returned. The gunman reportedly made no attempt to avoid being recognized and escaped on a motorcycle.

Sá’s colleagues at O Estado do Maranhão said that his reporting for the newspaper and his blog Blog do Décio had created several enemies. Police are believed to be investigating the link between Sá’s murder and an article he wrote about a local politician who was implicated in a prostitution ring and in the murder of a student.

Décio Sá, who had been a reporter for 17 years, is the third journalist to be murdered in Brazil in 2012, following Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues and Mario Randolpho Marques Lopes in February. There have yet to be any arrests in these murders.

PEN American Center is seriously concerned that Décio Sá was murdered in a contract killing for his work as a journalist. In the last two years, a total of eight print journalists have been killed, indicating a troubling trend targeting journalists who report on official corruption. We therefore call on the Brazilian authorities to carry out a full and impartial investigation into Décio Sá’s murder and all other killings as a matter of urgency, and to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

Hannah Pakula
Chair, Freedom to Write Committee

Larry Siems
Director, Freedom to Write and International Programs

CC: Ambassador Mauro Vieira
Embassy of Brazil
3006 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Fax: (202)238-2827

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