This is the grimmest report on press freedom in Brazil in 20 years. The worst case of censorship since the country was under military dictatorship occurred in recent months. Since the Midyear Meeting two detestable murders of members of the press were committed by organized crime, one of them extremely cruel with the journalist being tortured and then burned. If that were not enough, since the March meeting the courts have issued a series of misguided rulings that culminated this week, on the night of October 23, when a law enforcement officer, accompanied by the attorney for the party opposing Brasilia newspaper Correio Braziliense, practically broke into the paper’s newsroom under a court order authorizing them to “enter the newspaper’s offices.” The officer and attorney for the opposing party then proceeded page by page to censor reports to be published the next day on irregular sales of government land in Brasilia by Governor Joaquim Roríz. Correio Braziliense was preparing to publish a series of conversations taken from tape recordings that showed the governor and his friends, the Passos brothers, had been involved. Correio Braziliense has tried several times to publish reports on the recorded conversations, but the governor has always created obstacles. Brazil’s National Association of Journalists (ANJ) reported that censorship has not been so strict as under the official censors in the Correio Braziliense newsroom since the 1964-1985 dictatorship. Standing steadfastly by the Brazilian press, the IAPA has joined it in repudiating this act, and warns of the need to take a firm stand and fight against all actions that threaten the freedom of the press. The Brazilian press is mourning two murders in recent months. The first was committed in June by drug traffickers as a reprisal for the work of Tim Lopes, investigative journalist for Red Globo de Televisão in Rio de Janeiro. Lopes was murdered, after being captured, tortured, dismembered and burned. He was buried in a secret cemetery in a region dominated by fear, violence and the power of the drug traffic. On June 2, the reporter used a small hidden camera to try to obtain information about a funk dance party, which residents said was sponsored by drug traffickers as a place for the sexual exploitation of children and consumption of illegal drugs. The journalist disappeared, and police confirmed his death a month later when a DNA exam showed that a rib fragment found in a secret cemetery was his. On September 19, three months and 17 days after the murder, the civil police arrested the main suspect, the drug trafficker Elias Pereira da Silva, known as Elias Maluco (crazy), a nickname given to him by his confederates because of the cruelty and violence he used when killing his victims. Elias was the last of the nine suspects to be arrested. Six others are in custody, one died in a clash with police and the other apparently committed suicide. On September 30, organized crime claimed another victim. Domingos Sávio Brandão de Lima Júnior, 40, a lawyer and businessman who was owner, publisher and editor of Folha do Estado, Radio Cidade and SB Construções e Planejamento in Cuiabá, capital of Mato Grosso state. Brandão was shot six times in broad daylight in the center of the city. According to the police, who analyzed the action of the criminals and examined the ballistic evidence, it was clearly an underworld execution. The crime was committed by two people who approached the victim on a motorcycle and shot at him, then fled. Sávio Brandão died instantly. On October 4, former military police corporal Hércules Araújo Agostinho, former military police soldier Célio de Souza and law student Éverson Davi Robalo were arrested, and they are being held at the Pascoal Ramos Regional Penitentiary in Cuiabá. They all have criminal records. The main defendant is Araújo Agostinho, who was recognized by two witnesses who are under police protection. The investigation is leading to the hypothesis that the businessman was killed because of reports in Folha do Estado about organized crime in Mato Grosso, involving the slot machine business. On April 12, Silvio Martinello, editor of A Gazeta of Rio Branco in Acre state, reported that the editor in chief, Jaime Moreira had been threatened after the publication of two reports about irregularities in a loan application to the Inter-American Development Bank by the state government. On June 7, Aluysio Abreu Barbosa, managing editor of Folha da Manhã in Campos in Rio de Janeiro state, and son of the newspaper’s owner, said he had been persecuted and threatened. His reports led to an investigation and the arrest of a federal policeman, allegedly involved in the plan. On July 23, Sâmar Razzak, a reporter for Jornal do Estado of Curitiba, Paraná state, received telephone threats after publishing an article about a gang that sold false diplomas. On August 14, journalist Fernanda de Luca, filmmaker Alexandre Guimarães and their assistant Wellington da Silva of the program “Cidade Alerta” on TV Record, were threatened and some of their equipment was destroyed by a resident suspected of killing a 5-year-old girl, Taniá Alves de Mendonça. The following attacks were reported: On May 23, photographer Jefferson Botega of the newspaper Pioneiro of Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul state, was physically and verbally attacked by four members of the Movement of Unemployed Workers (MTD) while he was covering a land invasion by a group families connected to the organization. On August 1, journalist Marcelo Fraga of TV Jangadeiro was attacked by Luciano Luque, press coordinator of the Ceará state legislature while covering a session. On August 30, Saulo Borges and Joana Queiroz of the newspaper A Crítica of Manaus in Amazonas state were threatened after they began to investigate and publish reports about murders by a death squad. The following censorship cases were reported; On March 4, Governor Jorge Viana approved Law 1439 establishing the State Program Against Domestic Violence which includes in Article 3 the “establishment of an ethics code for sectors of press, communications and culture, intended to promote the values of peace rather than values that reinforce violence, as well as the certification of professionals in this area, for that purpose.” The law was published in the Official Gazette of Acre on March 7. On March 21, the Rio de Janeiro courts granted an injunction to the PSB presidential candidate, Anthony Garotinho, blocking the dissemination of news by the magazine Carta Capital. The president of the ANJ, Francisco Mesquita Neto, and its vice president, Mário Gusmão, head of the Free Expression Committee, said this act confirmed an earlier court decision, of July 13, 2001, when Garotinho used the same means to censor the newspaper O Globo and other media outlets. On May 24, Judge Renato Mehana Khamis used a legal appeal for the second time to censor the press. He obtained a restraining order in a São Paulo court prohibiting the media from publishing any news about the disciplinary process underway in the Regional Labor Court for illegal acts. On September 30, the Regional Electoral Court of the Federal District prevented the newspapers O Globo of Rio de Janeiro and Correio Brasiliense of Brasília, among others, from publishing parts of recorded conversations about the participation of officials of the government of Joaquim Roriz in corruption and illegal land distribution. The following legal cases were brought against newspapers and journalists: One June 13, journalists Marcelo Rech, managing editor of Zero Hora, and José Barrionuevo, commentator on Rádio Gaúcha, both of RBS, were sentenced to five months and 10 days in prison. The sentence was changed to the payment of five monthly minimum wages to a public or private charity. Judge Isabel de Borba Lucas, of the 9th criminal court of Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul state, sentenced the journalists for criticizing Governor Olívio Dutra. Rech was convicted because of an editorial published in Zero Hora April 25, 2000 with the headline “The Right to Loot” that criticized the governor for saying that he respected demonstrations like the one that destroyed the clock commemorating the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil. Barrionuevo was convicted for a radio commentary that also criticized the governor for his position on the disturbances and his participation in a seminar on the strategy of looting in the countryside. According to the report in Zero Hora, dozens of demonstrators destroyed the clock commemorating the 500th anniversary in Porto Alegre on April 22, 200 with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails. In addition to stoning the clock, they attacked a fire truck. The judge found that the editorial and the commentary exceeded the right to criticism and offended the governor by accusing him of negligence in dealing with the disturbance. In her ruling, the judge said, “no one wants a return to censorship,” but “respect must prevail” in a democracy. According to the verdict, handed down on June 6, the editorial improperly accused the governor, “going beyond the criticism that every politician is subject to.” The RBS appealed to the Rio Grande do Sul court and argued in defense of the journalists that there is not a single line or word, either in Rech’s statement or Barrionuevo’s commentary that distorts the truth or exceeds the limit of the constitutionally guaranteed right to criticize the acts and statements of the state governor concerning topics of public interest. On July 1, Demetrius Gomes Cavalcanti, judge of the 4th Civil Division of Brasília, granted an injunction prohibiting journalists of TV Record from commenting with “pejorative terms” about former senator Luiz Estevão when they reported on the diversion of funds from the Regional Labor Court of São Paulo. If it did not abide by the decision, the station would have to pay a fine of 50,000 reals. Journalist Boris Casoy reportedly offended Luiz Estevão when he reported about the diversion of funds from the labor court. “Will Judge Lalau and his gang go free?” the journalist asked. The court recalled that Luiz Estevão is still waiting for the decision on the facts that were attributed to him by the Public Ministry. For this reason “a journalist with the reputation and respect of Mr. Boris Casoy” cannot change allegations into irrefutable evidence even if they are consistent.” On June 18, the 1st Civil Court of Brasília also prohibited Marcone Fomiga of the magazine Brasília em Dia from making offensive commentaries about the former senator. If he does not comply, he must pay a 20,000 real fine for every incident. On July 3, retired judge Nicolau dos Santos Neto sued Boris Casoy of Rede Record. The lower criminal court of São Paulo suspended the trial. In addition to regularly calling him “Lalau,” or “thief,” Casoy said, “Lalau is, in clear Portuguese, a Reverend Thief.” If the verdict were disobeyed, there would be a 50,000 real fine for each publication. On April 23, the lower criminal court of São Paulo had granted habeas corpus to Casoy, ruling that the criminal libel case against him should be dismissed. The case was brought by Zacharías Toron, Judge Nicolau’s attorney, who accused Casoy of having said on his program that people like the judge hire “good lawyers” and pay them “their weight in gold with money probably stolen from us.” The judge who ruled on the case said the statement “does not imply a crime of cover-up” by Toron as the lawyer had alleged. On July 4, the Brazilian Bar Association of Paraiba reported that there was a “compensation industry” in the state. According to lawyer Télio Farias, who studies legal cases against the press, lawyers “hunt” for people allegedly libeled in articles and bringing lawsuits seeking damages of up to 800,000 reals. Farias told the Jornal da Paraíba that currently 80% of the cases against communication companies are brought by lawyers who want to benefit from alleged irregularities by the media. He also mentioned a “machine to fabricate facts” said to be damaging to the client and said lawyers look in articles for opportunities for awards, then contact the people involved and persuade them to sue for very high damages. On August 8, Judge Carlos Eduardo Fonseca Passos of the 7th Civil Court in Rio de Janeiro ordered the magazine Veja to pay 150,000 reals to filmmaker Cacá Diegues. The director sued Veja for punitive damages three years ago. The publication had said in an article that Cacá Diegues “spends a fortune and sometimes does not finish his films.” The judge found the article false and offensive.”