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Brazil5 September 2005

Non-fatal shooting of Rio journalist caps bad month for Brazilian press

Reporters Without Borders voiced dismay today at the news that Nadja Haddad of radio Band Rio sustained a bullet wound to the chest in a shootout between military police and drug traffickers on 29 August in Rio de Janeiro, capping a month of attacks and abuse of authority against the press in Brazil.

"What with violence and acts of intimidation, often involving officials of different kinds, press freedom is still fragile in Brazil," the organisation said. "We wish Nadja Haddad a speedy recovery and we hope a thorough investigation will be carried out to determine who fired the shots that could have killed her. We also call on the federal government and state governors to be tougher with officials who try to obstruct journalists in their work."

The shoot-out in which Haddad was injured began in the late afternoon when a military police patrol came under fire from a gang of traffickers making a stand on high ground in Rio’s Botafogo district. Members of the Special Operations Battalion (BOPE) were summoned and launched an assault on the traffickers.

A shot struck 24-year-old Haddad in the chest, puncturing a lung, as she arrived on the scene in a Brand Rio vehicle. She was rushed to Miguel Couto hospital where she underwent emergency surgery during the night. "Her condition is improving, she is recovering well," Band Rio editor Alessandra Martins said.

Reporters Without Borders meanwhile registered several other cases of attacks and intimidation against journalists in the course of August. These included three in the central state of Tocantins alone, which were reported by the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ).

Salomão Aguiar of TV Palmas was attacked during the first week of August by a local judicial official as he was covering a noise control operation by police in the state capital of Palmas. The official, who did not want his car filmed, punched Aguiar in the face, bruising him.

On 11 August, police tried to stop TV crews and journalists from TV Palmas, TV Anhanguera and the Jornal do Tocantins from covering a news conference at the state prosecutor’s office in Palmas at which prosecutors produced two police officers accused of extortion. And on 17 August, local parliamentary representative Fábio Martins assaulted Edson Rodrigues, the editor of the weekly Paralelo 13, during a meeting of the Tocantins regional council.

Elsewhere in Brazil, Amélia Denardin, the chief of staff of the mayor of Altamira (in the northern state of Pará) assaulted Odair Oliveira of the television station SBT during the Pará Indigenous Games on 14 August and tried to stop him from filming, according to SBT executives, who filed a complaint.

Finally, photographer Wladimir de Souza of the Diário de São Paulo newspaper was attacked by a policeman, Antonio Honório, while filming the detention of a drug trafficker at the headquarters of the narcotics police in São Paulo on 10 August. Honório grabbed De Souza, threw him against a wall and broke his camera.

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