69th General Assembly

Denver, Colorado

October 18 – 22, 2013

Impunity in killings of journalists and other media workers continued to be the most serious threat to press freedom in the period covered by this report. Persistent incidents of judicial censorship are also cause for alarm, since judges are precisely the ones who are expected to protect the constitutional right to free speech and guard against any form of censorship. Particularly noteworthy is the lack of a final ruling on the censorship order issued on July 31, 2009, against the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo. Meanwhile, in an especially troubling development, more than 70 journalists have been victimized in acts of police brutality and assaulted by demonstrators during the wave of protests that began on June 6, 2013. The violence, which in some cases resulted in serious injuries, was also directed at the facilities and vehicles of media companies, in a sign of increasingly hostile attitudes toward the media among groups of various stripes. Media professionals (reporters, photographers, camera operators) were detained, beaten and threatened. Some of them were seriously injured, such as Sérgio Silva, a photographer for Folha de S. Paulo who was covering protests against the bus fare increase in São Paulo on June 13. Silva lost vision in his left eye when he was struck by a rubber bullet from a member of the riot police. Two journalists were killed in the period covered by this report. On April 14, 2013, Walgney Assis Carvalho, a freelance photographer for the newspaper Jornal Vale do Aço, was shot and killed in Coronel Fabriciano (Minas Gerais). The Minas Gerais police are investigating a possible link between this killing and that of journalist Rodrigo Neto, which occurred 37 days earlier in Ipatinga. The two would frequently work together and, according to the Human Rights Committee of the Minas Gerais legislature, Carvalho was one of the first people to give a statement to authorities about Neto’s killing, and he provided useful information about the case. On April 16, Carvalho’s ex-girlfriend received an anonymous death threat by telephone. On April 19, the Federal Police began assisting in the investigation into Carvalho’s killing, in cooperation with the Minas Gerais police. According to the Human Rights Committee of the Minas Gerais legislature, at least 20 police officers were involved in more than 20 homicides reported by Neto and Carvalho. On March 8, journalist and radio personality Rodrigo Neto de Faria, of the newspaper Jornal Vale do Aço, was killed in Ipatinga (Minas Gerais). Neto had written an unpublished report on crimes allegedly committed by a death squad consisting of local police officers. On March 9, the Human Rights Secretariat of the Office of the President stepped in to assist in the investigation into Neto’s killing. On June 17, a court ordered the arrest of Alessandro Augusto Neves, aka “Pitote,” for his role in the crime. The police investigation found that he had ties to police officers in Coronel Fabriciano (Minas Gerais) and that he allegedly participated in the killing by supplying information. On June 18, police investigator Lúcio Lírio Leal was arrested on suspicion of carrying out the killing. Since April of this year, eight police officers, six civilians, and two members of the military have been arrested. Those arrested in connection with killings in the region include coroner José Rafael Americano; investigators José Cassiano Ferreira Guarda, Leonardo Correa, Ronaldo de Oliveira Andrade, and Gini Cassiano; and Military Police (MP) officer Vitor Emanuel Miranda de Andrade. Seventy assaults on journalists were reported in the past six months. On September 7 alone, 21 assaults against 20 members of the press were reported to have occurred during protests in Brazil. These incidents occurred in Brasília, Belo Horizonte, Manaus, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as the victims were covering the protests for 14 media outlets. The police perpetrated 18 of the assaults—or 85%—mostly through the excessive use of pepper spray. Reporters and photographers in Brasília experienced the most violence: 12 were assaulted, all of them by MP officers. Six of the victims were working for the newspaper Correio Brasiliense, including Arthur Paganini, who was shoved by one police officer and then pepper-sprayed by another MP officer. Journalist Brenno Fortes was shoved by a police officer as he tried to assist an injured colleague. Photographer Monique Renne captured the moment when a police officer shot pepper spray directly at her camera as she was photographing the scene. Photographers Carlos Vieira, Carlos Moura and Janine Morais were also assaulted. Also in Brasília, photographer Ricardo Marques of Metro newspaper lost consciousness after being pepper-sprayed in the face, and one of his cameras was stolen. MP officers unleashed dogs on a group of demonstrators and journalists who were heading toward the National Stadium. Reuters photographer Ueslei Marcelino injured his knee as he tried to leave the scene. Fábio Braga, a photographer for Folha de S. Paulo, was attacked by MP dogs, though he was not seriously injured. MP officers intentionally tear-gassed Marlene Bergamo, a photographer for Folha de S. Paulo, and Luciano Nascimento, a reporter for Agência Brasil. Evaristo Sá, a photographer for Agence France-Press, was pepper-sprayed and had to be taken to a hospital. In Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), the press suffered two acts of violence. Reporter Lucas Simões was assaulted by an MP officer while recording the MP’s searches of people. Lucas said that he had been recording for a few minutes when an MP officer approached him from behind and struck him in an attempt to interrupt the recording. Journalism student João Vitor de Almeida Brito Alves was clubbed in the head by an MP officer. In Rio de Janeiro, three journalists were assaulted by demonstrators or police officers. Protesters assaulted a reporting team for TV Globo. Marcos de Paula, a photographer for O Estado de S. Paulo, was tear-gassed. GloboNews reporter Júlio Molica was doubly victimized: pepper-sprayed by the MP and kicked by protesters, who tried to force him to leave. Paulo Araújo of O Dia newspaper was assaulted by police officers; he suffered shrapnel wounds and his backpack was burned. Demonstrators also turned on the press in Manaus (Amazonas). Two acts of violence were perpetrated against the media: Izinha Toscano, a reporter for the Portal Amazônia website, was hit in the back, and Camila Henriques of the G1 Amazonas website was shoved. The two were covering the arrest of demonstrators. In São Paulo, photojournalist Tércio Teixeira was mildly injured by police fire. On August 22, four journalists were assaulted during the first session of testimony before the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) into the Bus System in the Rio de Janeiro city council chambers. According to Agência Brasil, GloboNews reporters Julio Molica and Antonia Martinho were forced to leave by pro-CPI demonstrators. Sergio Colonesi, a cameraman for TV Band, and Cirilo Júnior, a journalist for the Terra website, were kicked in the back and beaten with a stick, respectively. On August 19, journalists were pepper-sprayed while covering protests against Governor Sérgio Cabral and against electoral fraud in Rio de Janeiro. Video footage recorded by the group Coletivo Mariachi and posted on YouTube shows a police officer shooting pepper spray in journalists’ faces and at their equipment. On August 7, João Miranda, a photographer for the newspaper Jornal Estado de Minas, was arrested for photographing the front of the transportation headquarters of the Belo Horizonte police (Minas Gerais). Miranda had begun taking photographs after noticing some vehicles circulating at the site. On July 22, Agence France-Presse photographer Yasuyoshi Chiba was assaulted by an MP officer near Guanabara Palace, the seat of government for the state of Rio de Janeiro. Chiba was covering a protest against government spending during the visit of Pope Francis. On June 26, at least three journalists were injured during clashes near Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais). Tahiane Stochero, a journalist for the G1 website, was struck by a rock thrown by protesters. She reported that demonstrators surrounded a group of MP officers and began throwing rocks at them. On June 24, Honório Jacometto, a journalist for TV Anhanguera, an affiliate of Rede Globo in the state of Goiás, was assaulted during a protest in downtown Goiânia. The assault occurred in the early evening as a group of demonstrators were chanting, “Out with Globo,” and several of them approached the reporter and shoved him. The MP had to intervene to stop the assault. On June 20, Flávio Botelho, a journalist for Rádio CBN FM 99.1 in Campinas (São Paulo state), was assaulted and robbed during the protest against the public-transportation fare hike. Botelho said he was assaulted by at least 10 people. He told police that he was taking photographs of a break-in at a store when he was shoved by protesters and, once on the ground, punched and kicked. The fall and beating left Botelho with a fractured left shoulder and a sprained ankle. On June 19, at least eight journalists were struck with rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, and police clubs while covering protests before the soccer match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelão Stadium in Fortaleza (Ceará). Vladimir Platonow, a reporter for Agência Brasil, was assaulted by security guards from the Niterói bus station (Rio de Janeiro state) while covering the protests in Niterói. On June 18, Vinicius Segalla, a reporter for UOL, was assaulted by demonstrators protesting the approval of the PEC-37 initiative, the high bus fares, and government spending on the 2014 World Cup. Segalla was covering the protest when a demonstrator grabbed his radio to see if he was talking with the police. Segalla was then kicked. On June 17, Maria Ferri, a reporter for TV Record Brasília, was trapped in the television station’s vehicle in Brasília. The rear window was broken by rock-throwing protesters gathered outside the National Congress. Ferri was unable to cover the protests. André Naddeo, a reporter for the Terra website, was assaulted and robbed by demonstrators protesting the bus fare hike in Rio de Janeiro. On June 13, at least 15 journalists were assaulted and detained by MP officers during a crackdown on a demonstration against the bus fare hike in São Paulo. The protests, which broke out on June 6, were organized by the Movimento Passe Livre (Free Fare Movement). On June 13, considered the most violent day, the police continued to carry out acts of brutality even though the journalists displayed their press credentials. The MP used clubs, tear gas, and rubber bullets not only against the protesters, but also against the journalists covering the protest. On April 20, Rui Luiz de Sá Chaves, editor of O Candiru newspaper in Itacoatiara (Amazonas), was assaulted as he was leaving the newspaper’s offices. Chaves was punched in the eye and, after falling to the ground, was kicked in the ribs. He had to be hospitalized for severe bruises and a cut over his right eye. Nine incidents of judicial censorship occurred in the period covered by this report. On August 31, Sebastião de Siqueira Souza, the presiding judge in the Recife jurisdiction of the Pernambuco Court of Justice, granted an injunction barring the newspaper Jornal do Commercio (Sistema Jornal do Commercio de Comunicação) and the newspaper Diário de Pernambuco and TV Clube (both of which belong to Diários Associados) from naming Guilherme Uchoa (Democratic Labor Party), speaker of the Pernambuco legislature, in reports on influence peddling in a child adoption case in which his daughter, attorney Giovana Góes Uchoa, had played a role. On August 26, the newspaper Gazeta do Povo in Curitiba (Paraná) was barred from publishing news on the investigations into Clayton Camargo, chief judge of the Paraná Court of Justice. In April 2013, the National Judicial Council (CNJ) opened an investigation into whether Camargo had accepted bribes, following a complaint filed by an attorney for one of the sides in a case on which he had ruled as a family court judge. The complainant accused him of accepting money in exchange for a ruling favorable to the opposing party in a 2011 child custody case. In July 2013, the CNJ’s internal affairs unit opened a separate investigation into whether Camargo had used his influence to bolster the candidacy of his son, state legislator Fábio Camargo (Brazilian Labor Party), for the vacant seat on the Court of Auditors of the State of Paraná. Fábio assumed the post in late July. Also in July, Judge Benjamin Acácio de Moura e Costa granted an injunction barring the publication of news on these allegations, and ordering the removal of such reports from the newspaper’s website. In early October, the CNJ opened an administrative disciplinary proceeding to investigate alleged misconduct by Judge Camargo. The CNJ also made the unanimous decision to suspend him from the bench as a precautionary measure until a final decision is made in the case. On May 22, Judge Camila Castanho Opdebeeck of the 3rd Civil Court of Indaiatuba (São Paulo state) barred the online dissemination of José Simão’s column that was published in the “Ilustrada” section of Folha de S. Paulo on August 22, 2012. This injunction was requested by Alzira Cetra Bassani (Popular Socialist Party), a former candidate for city council in Indaiatuba, who was serving as an interim council member. In his column, Simão satirized the nickname adopted by the candidate during her 2012 campaign: “Alzira Kibe Sfiha.” The attorneys for the former candidate claimed that the column was morally “offensive” and harmful to her “good name.” The judge awarded the injunction on the grounds that there was a “risk of irreparable harm, or of harm difficult to repair.” The newspaper announced that it would comply with the ruling, although it would appeal. On May 15, José Sarney, former speaker of the Brazilian Senate, successfully petitioned the special financial court for the 10th electoral district to freeze the bank accounts of retired teacher Alcinéa Cavalcante, who runs a blog titled “Alcinéa Cavalcante, Liberdade de Expressão!” She was sued after suggesting on her blog that readers should make a bumper sticker saying, “The car that best suits me is a police paddy wagon,” and that they should place the sticker on a politician’s car. No specific politician was singled out in her suggestion, but a visitor to the blog posted a comment calling it “a perfect bumper sticker for Sarney.” Sarney then sued the blogger for damages and for the removal of her blog from the Internet. Judge José Luciano Assis awarded Sarney 2 million Brazilian reals in non-pecuniary damages, including interest and fines. In response, Cavalcante posted a photograph of a local wall painted with the phrase “Xô, Sarney!” . On April 11, TV Anhanguera, an affiliate of Rede Globo in Gurupi (Tocantins), was barred from broadcasting the arraignment of police officers for a crime committed in that municipality in September 2012. The station received a summons from Judge Joana Augusta Elias da Silva to appear before her court in Gurupi, under penalty of contempt. At a hearing to decide whether the defendants would be tried by jury, the judge called the reporting team to the front of the courtroom to say that they were forbidden from filming any of the defendants or witnesses. On April 10, the newspaper O Fato Novo in the city of Taquari (Rio Grande do Sul) was notified by the local electoral court that it was forbidden from publishing its interview with Marione Villanova Nonnenmacker, former health secretary in Taquari. The order was issued by Judge Andrea Caselgrandi Silla of the 56th electoral district of Rio Grande do Sul. Nonnenmacker is a witness in a case of alleged vote buying and abuse of power in the 2012 municipal elections. On March 12, Marconi Perillo (Brazilian Social Democracy Party), governor of the state of Goiás, successfully petitioned a state court to bar Lenia Soares Santana, a 22-year-old journalism student and blogger, from naming him in articles for the newspaper Diário de Goiás and in a weekly political blog. According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the court ruled the student would have to pay 1,000 Brazilian reals in compensation, plus an unspecified daily fine, if she fails to comply. Perillo’s attorney, João Paulo Brzezinski, said the governor had never sued anyone for criticizing his government, but rather for distorting facts and manipulating documents and information. There were also nine cases involving threats against the press. On September 19, Jorge Reis da Costa, a television host better known as “Kajuru,” reported receiving death threats from Silval Barbosa, the governor of Mato Grosso. On his show titled “O incrível Kajuru” (The Incredible Kajuru), on TV Esporte Interativo, Kajuru said that the threats were related to his criticism of overbilling for work in preparation for the World Cup in Mato Grosso. On September 9, Antônio Fabiano Portilho Coene, a journalist and owner of Portal i9, was kidnapped and threatened in Campo Grande (Mato Grosso do Sul). Portilho was seized by three armed men in downtown Campo Grande. After parking his car, the journalist was forced by three unknown assailants into a black vehicle with no plates. He was taken to a side street, where he was tied up and given the following warning: “As of today, you don’t say anything to anyone in this state and this city. You have 24 hours to leave the state, or else you die.” Portilho reported the incident to the police, who then opened an investigation, according to the Portal i9 website. This is the third time Portilho has been threatened in less than a year. On September 9, journalist and blogger Luis Pablo received a death threat from legislator Arnaldo Melo (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Maranhão. On August 14, José Luiz Datensa, host of “Brasil Urgente” on TV Bandeirantes, said on his show that his family, which lives in Goiânia (Goiás), had received a death threat. He said that one of his sons was informed by police in Goiânia that an anonymous caller from São Paulo had told them that assassins were on their way from São Paulo to Goiás to kill them. On August 6, cartoonist Carlos Latuff received a death threat from Army lieutenant Giovane da Silva Pereira and a woman who supposedly works at the Brazilian Bar Association in São Paulo and goes by the name Cardia Ma on a social networking site. Latuff is known for his activism against police brutality in Brazil and his advocacy for the Palestinian people. On June 24, a reporting team for TV Pampa in Rio Grande do Sul was threatened, and its recording equipment seized, while covering protests in Porto Alegre. According to the Vitrine Digital website, a camerawoman was filming a group of protesters looting a bank when she was surrounded by five people who threatened to kill her and demanded she turn over her memory card. On May 7, reporter Fabíola Gadelha of the program “Alô Amazonas” on TV A Crítica in Manaus (Amazonas) received death threats and began using armed bodyguards. An ex-convict told journalist Paulo França, a colleague of Gadelha’s, that a hit had been put out on the reporter’s life. Ten days later, the television station’s vehicle was followed by a motorcyclist wearing a backpack and helmet. On March 19, radio host Emílio Gusmão, who also runs a blog in Ilhéus (Bahia), was threatened by city councilman Aldemir Almeida (Brazilian Socialist Party). Gusmão said he had been threatened on four other occasions by Almeida, who said that he would have something done to Gusmão if he didn’t do it himself. The following attacks on media outlets were reported. On June 20, a vehicle belonging to Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão (SBT) was set ablaze by demonstrators near city hall in Rio de Janeiro, who were protesting the public-transportation fare hike in Natal (Rio Grande do Norte). On June 18, the broadcasting van of TV Record was set on fire by protesters while covering a demonstration organized by the Free Fare Movement to protest the hike in bus and train fares in São Paulo. On June 4, the main offices of TV Serra Dourada, as well as one of the station’s vehicles, were attacked by people taking part in protests in Goiânia (Goiás). On March 14, the main offices of Grupo Rondoniagora in Rondônia were attacked. Witnesses reported that five shots were fired at the building in the early morning hours. Station director Gerson Costa said he considered this an act of intimidation. On March 13, Encanto do Rio, a radio station in Benjamin Constant (Amazonas), was targeted in an arson attack. The G1 website reported that two transmitters, an air conditioning unit and a receiver at the station were burned. The police discovered signs of forced entry, but no flammable substances were found. On March 9, Rádio AM 970, which is part of the Sistema Monólitos de Comunicação network in Quixadá (Ceará), was attacked and forced to suspend its programming. In addition to destroying the station’s offices, the assailants also set fire to its transmitters. They are suspected to have used dynamite in the attack. On March 11, Rádio FM 105.9, which also belongs to Sistema Monólitos de Comunicação, was attacked and forced to suspend its programming. The station’s facilities were destroyed, and the building housing its transmitters was damaged by homemade explosives. On July 8, city councilman and television host Adeilson Correa da Silva was arrested at the main offices of TV Rio Claro in São José do Rio Claro (Mato Grosso). According to the online news site Gazeta Digital, Adeilson was arrested for his on-air criticism of police chief Henrique Hoffman Monteiro de Castro for using a police vehicle on private business. On June 13, Piero Locatelli, a reporter for Carta Capital magazine, was arrested during a protest against the public-transportation fare hike in São Paulo. Locatelli was arrested, before the protest even began, for carrying a bottle of vinegar in his backpack. On June 13, journalist Leandro Machado of Folha de S. Paulo was arrested while witnessing the arrest of a demonstrator. A Military Police officer approached him, baton in hand, and said, “Either leave or I’ll beat you.” When Machado displayed his press badge, the officer said that meant nothing to him. He asked for Machado’s documents, and Machado gave him his identification card and press badge. The officer then went back to his car and, upon returning, announced that Machado was under arrest. On the way to the police station of the 78th precinct (in the Jardins neighborhood), Machado was told that he was under arrest for “disrupting a police action.”