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Nivanildo Barbosa Lima
July 22, 1995

NIVANILDO BARBOSA LIMA, Brazil

Two days after he disappeared at nine o'clock on his way to Perpetuo Socorro Church for a reporters’ meeting, his body – the  face lacerated -- was found floating on July 22, 1995 at the Paulo Alfonso reservoir, north of Bahia, Brazil,. The controversial coroner’s report stated that Nivanildo Barbosa Lima was the victim of "drowning by asphyxiation." The same thing as stating the cause of death as "natural death."

Shortly before, an anonymous caller had threatened him at his home. "Oh My God," he exclaimed and went off to his meeting. As he passed in front of the Bankers union building, he raised his hand in a wave to his friends, saying he’d be back to see them soon.

He never returned. And at the age of 27 he never had the chance to fulfill his dream of studying journalism and becoming a radio announcer. His ideals and dedication led him to take an active role in the Catholic newspaper Ponto de Encontro – which often denounced the excesses of organized crime and the killings by the death squads in the region.

Since childhood he had shown a special interest in journalism. He liked to read books, magazines, newspapers, devouring them with the same eagerness as he did the TV news. His parents recall his kindness and innocence when he cried upon hearing the news of a massacre of street children in Rio de Janeiro. "That's an injustice," he commented.

Since death squads dominated the city with their conflicts and rivalry, many of the journalists in Paulo Alfonso, 500 kilometers north of Salvador, also received threats and preferred not to risk their lives – moving on in search of new horizons. The fear was mirrored by the city’s population of 90,000. The weak police case opened at the time of Barbosa Lima’s death ended three years later when a judge dismissed it. In 2002 the Public Prosecutor ordered the case reopened for investigation of new evidence but the Police Commissioner made no progress.

The IAPA appealed the unpunished death of Brazilian journalist Nivanildo Barbosa Lima before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in May 2010 with the hope that the organization would influence Brazilian authorities to seek justice and punish the guilty.



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