BRAZIL The past six months demonstrate that while there is press freedom in Brazil, censorship attempts are increasing. There are clear signs that the desire to limit the free flow of information is strong. A variety of arguments are used to justify the increase of initiatives by the executive, legislative and judicial branches, proposing laws, decrees, regulations and codes, not to mention judicial rulings, that one way or another would curtail freedom of expression. At this time there are restrictions in the Electoral Law and the Children’s and Young People’s Act. Efforts are being made with various interpretations to extend restrictions to other fields—not just journalism, but also those related to consumption, such as want ads and advertising for a variety of products. The imposition of large awards of punitive damages on media outlets is a serious threat to the freedom of the press—even its survival. The newspaper Debate in São Paulo is in danger of folding. Other newspapers have suffered serious financial losses after paying punitive damages. Another face of censorship is based on the attempt to pass laws that erode press freedom, such as gag laws. The presentation of bills representing the eagerness to regulate of some sectors of society is a constant in the Brazilian parliament. An example of the need for vigilance to defend press freedom was a new attempt by the government in December to muzzle attorneys in the Public Prosecutors Office. It attempted to establish sanctions, including fines of close to $75,000, against prosecutors, police chiefs and assistant state attorneys who “boldly initiate police investigations or administrative procedures or civil, criminal or improper actions against third parties for actions they have not committed.” It appeared that the interim measure was an attempt to discipline public officials authorized to investigate public authorities. In reality, the intention was to restrict or inhibit the initiative of national prosecutors who, as an independent power, had proposed a police and judicial investigation of suspects and crimes involving corruption, negligence or administrative inefficiency, allegedly by agents of the state. In the face of reaction by the press and public opinion, the government withdrew the paragraph that established fines against prosecutors. Later, the federal authorities dropped the entire proposal. The decision was important for press freedom because the interim measure, if it were kept, would have been a threat to investigative journalism, which often is based information about actions by prosecutors against government officials. This was the third attempt by the government to limit the work of attorneys of the Federal Public Prosecutors office and police and justice officials who investigate crimes by public officials. There is still the possibility that the 1997 bill known as the “Gag Law” may be approved. This law would prevent prosecutors, judges, police chiefs and government officials from providing information to the press about trials and investigations before the final verdict. The bill was approved in the Chamber of Deputies and is now stalled in the Senate. It could be put to a vote at any time. There have also been direct attempts to intimidate journalists. In Mato Grosso state, a reporter of the newspaper A Gazeta was jailed and convicted for carrying a weapon that he had acquired specifically to do a report on how easy it is to obtain a weapon in the region. In Rio Grande do Sul state, a reporter and editor of Zero Hora were taken to a police station and urged to disclose their sources for an investigation about the future police chief. They were told that they should make statements as witnesses. This was illegal, because the Brazilian constitution guarantees respect for confidential sources. Both the state government of Bahia and the municipal government of the capital Salvador are discriminating against the Salvador daily A Tarde. All government advertising is being place in another publication owned by relatives of a prominent politician. That newspaper, Correio da Bahia fully supports the state and municipal governments. In 1995, A Tarde received 25.039 centimeters of state government advertising and 7.334 from the city government. In 2000, it received none from either government. One point of discord is journalist Marconi de Souza, an investigative reporter who has won many prizes including the IAPA’s reporting prize. He is being sued for libel by Correio da Bahia because he disclosed the number of government ads that gave that newspaper 100 % of the total. The editors of the daily Jornal NH in Novo Hamburgo, Rio Grande do Sul, were forced to make a statement to police in a complaint brought by the Professional Journalists Union because the newspaper has employees “practicing journalism illegally.” The employees do not have a university degree from the Social Communications School. There are seven cases of unpunished murders of journalists between 1995 and 1998. The IAPA, through the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, the Impunity Committee and the Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists Project, continues to act decisively, pressing for progress in the investigations and bringing the accused to justice. This action has brought some positive results. Last December, the four defendants in the murder of Ronaldo Santana de Araújo, October 9, 1997 in Eunápolis, Bahia state, were officially charged. The defendants in the murder of Marcos Borges Ribeiro on May 1, 1995, in Rio Verde, Goiás state, will go on trial in April. In the murder of José Carlos Mesquita March 9, 1998, in Ouro Verde do Oeste, Rondônia state, the defendants were formally charged which will make it possible for a trial date to be set. On October 23, 2000, the English journalist Richard Hering, who produces documentaries for Channel Four Television in London, made a complaint to the Federal Police against security guards for Duciomar Costa, a mayoral candidate in Belém, Pará. Hering said he was held for 15 minutes in a gray car while filming a political demonstration in Tierra Firme in Belém. He said about 20 of Costa’s security guards accosted him as he filmed the demonstration and dragged him to the vehicle and confiscated his videotape. On October 23, 2000, a court in Mato Grosso state punished reporter Silvio Carvalho who had done a reporting project on the clandestine arms trade in Shopping Popular in Porto, Cuiabá. Carvalho bought a weapon in Cuiabá and wrote a report about how freely arms are sold, then turned it in to the authorities. He was accused of illegal possession of a weapon for an hour, according to prosecutor Elio Américo. Carvalho, a reporter for A Gazeta, was sentenced to return to his home at 11 every night for two years and not leave the city for more than 30 days. For six months he must donate four market baskets of staples worth 25 Reals each to a charitable institution. In addition, he will have to appear in court once a month to prove that he is complying with his sentence. He must request legal authorization to deviate from these rules and is treated as “destructive for society.” On October 27, 2000, Electoral Judge Sonia Araújo Pereira in Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul state, censored the press by prohibiting the reporting of an ironic comment about the city by Workers Party leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Six members of the political coalition “New Time” had asked the judge for an interim relief order. On October 29, 2000, photographer Dorival Dias and reporter Rafael Godoi of Correio of Uberlandia in Minas Gerais were attacked by supporters and security guards of the political coalition Uberlandia’s New Face. On November 28, 2000 officials of the Vasco da Gama Club de Regatas soccer team aggravated its relationship with the press by prohibiting players from giving interviews, not allowing reporters to attend team practice and barring journalists from the stadium. Eurico Miranda, an official of the team, told the players not to give interviews. Journalists from four Rio de Janeiro dailies—O Globo, O Dia, Extra and Lance—were not allowed into the Sao Januario stadium during the November 28 game. On December 3, 2000, the Superior Court of Justice of São Paulo sentenced journalist Sérgio Fleury de Moraes to pay 25 million Reals in punitive damages against prosecutor Carlos Aparecido Rinard. Moraes is editor of the weekly Debate of Santa Cruz de Rio Pardo, a town of 40,000 people 375 kilometers west of São Paulo. On December 29, 2000, Nelson Filo of Diario do Grande ABC of Santo André in São Paulo state was attacked by soccer coach Jair Picerni of São Caetano club. The two argued because the coach said the journalist’s interview style was too aggressive. On January 15, 2001, six bodyguards of Ronald Lessa, the Socialist governor of Alagoas state, attacked cameraman André Feijó and reporter Beatriz Azevedo of TV Gazeta, of the Rede Globo de Televisão, when they tried to cover a presentation by Social Security Minister Waldeck Ornelas at the Agrarian School. On February 7, 2001, the judicial system ordered the suspension of an advertisement broadcast on radio and television by the Professors Union of Minas Gerais. The ad gave information about closing of classes in the private school system. The ban on the ad was an order of interim relief at the request of the Association of Private Schools of Minas Gerais. The order set a fine of 1,000 Reals for the broadcast. On February 20 and 22, 2001, reporter Nilson Mariano and editor Altair Nobre of Zero Hora in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, were summoned and interrogated at police headquarters. Officers Marcelo Moreira da Silva and Gabriela Monterio warned them emphatically that if they did not reveal their sources, they would be accused of false testimony punishable by a prison sentence and fine. The journalists were pressured to reveal who had given them a document reporting alleged offenses by the new police chief of the state, Pedro Urdangarin. Respecting journalistic ethics and under the constitutional guarantee of confidentiality of sources, Zero Hora did not disclose where it had obtained the document which was published in the February 10 edition, one day after Urdangarin took office. Two days after the report was published, police official Antonio Araújo ordered a search of the newspaper. The only result was the attempt to intimidate the journalists. In the document the report was based on, dated September 8, 2000, the justice and security judge Luiz Goulart Filho requested a charge against Urdangarin for “passive corruption,” saying that he and a police official had demanded 1,500 Reals from a farmer in São Jerónimo to return a stolen car. When we has asked about the matter by Zero Hora, Urdangarin said he knew nothing about the report. The police launched an investigation about the resolution of the case, directed by the police chief himself. When reporter Mariano was summoned to the police station, he thought he had been called to help in the investigation. To his surprise, it turned out that he was under investigation along with his source. Mariano was forced to answer personal questions and was threatened several times with being charged. Since he decided to abide by professional ethics and protect his source’s confidentiality, his immediate supervisor, the editor in chief of Zero Hora Altair Nobre, was summoned. He was also pressured to reveal the source and answer personal questions and warned that he could be put on trial. February 13, 2001 the Superior Court confirmed that Zero Hora of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, must pay about $600,000 in punitive damages to former senator José Paulo Bisol of the Brazilian Socialist Party. He was also ordered to pay legal costs of 178,663.20 Reals. The former legislator said he had been libeled in a series of articles accusing him of manipulating budget allocations and over billing the government to benefit his farm. The articles were published in 1994 when Bisol was running for vice president on the slate of Workers Party candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. According to trial testimony, the newspaper also reported that the former senator had retired after only seven months as a Superior Court judge, practiced nepotism and obtained a special bank loan from a state fund. The same court awarded the actress Maité Proença 50 million Reals in punitive damages from the newspaper Tribuna da Imprensa which published a photograph from a July 1996 session for Playboy without her authorization. She had already won material damages. Throughout the country pressures are mounting against newspapers that publish advertisements for escort services, massage parlors and similar businesses. The Council of Judges of the Rio de Janeiro state court convicted the newspaper O Globo for publishing advertisements for sex services in the classified ad section and prohibited their publication in that form.