Brazil: brutal murder of blogger highlights need for better protection

London – 22 May 2015

The Brazilian authorities must ensure that a swift and thorough investigation is carried out into the killing of Brazilian blogger, Evany José Metzker, found decapitated on 18 May 2015, and all other unsolved murders of journalists, PEN International, the world association of writers, said today.

He is the 20th blogger or print journalist to have been murdered in Brazil since 2004, according to PEN’s records. PEN calls on the Brazilian authorities to provide all bloggers, journalists and writers with effective protection.

“We are deeply distressed to learn that yet another blogger has been killed in Brazil.  While world attention has been focused on killings in Europe, this killing reminds us that Latin American writers have been murdered with impunity for years, with little progress to end this cycle of violence,” said Ann Harrison, Programme Director of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.

“We urge the government to take effective measures to protect bloggers and other writers as well as to end the high levels of impunity for attacks on writers in Brazil.”

Metzker’s half-naked, decapitated body was reportedly found in a ditch near the town of Padre Paraíso in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais on 18 May 2015, five days after he was reported missing. Metzer’s hands were tied behind his back and his body showed signs of torture. His head was found some 100 metres away.

According to local press reports, the local authorities were led to the scene following an anonymous tip-off. Due to the state of decomposition, the Civil Police are said to have determined that Metzker was killed on 13 May. The police are thought to be pursuing two separate lines of enquiry: his investigations into a child prostitution ring and drug trafficking, or a crime of passion. The police have ruled out robbery owing to that fact that his wallet and other personal items were recovered from the scene.

Metzker wrote a blog called, ‘Coruja do Vale’ (The Owl of the Valley), on which he published articles on politics and corruption. He is thought to have travelled to Padre Paraíso three months prior to his death to investigate allegations of drug trafficking and child prostitution in the town.

In 2014, PEN International monitored the cases of 23 writers and journalists persecuted for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. This figure included some seven print journalists and bloggers whose murders remain either fully or partially unsolved.

Journalist Pedro Palma and blogger and lawyer Marcos de Barros Leopoldo Guerra were shot dead in separate incidents in February and December 2014, respectively. While official investigations into the murders were opened, it remains unclear whether the authorities have succeeded in solving the crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

According to the PEN International Case List, in 18 out of 20 (90 per cent) of murders of journalists and bloggers in Brazil between 2004 and 2014, the journalist is reported to have investigated alleged political or police corruption or to have opposed local officials in their journalism or political activities.