02 October 2015
The state of freedom of expression in Brazil has once again deteriorated. In terms of violations of press freedom, both killings and arrests have been on the rise. In a positive development, the number of assaults on media professionals has declined, and the declining trend in cases of judicial censorship, which was noted in the previous report, has continued. The following journalists were killed: Evany José Metzker, 67, who operated the “Coruja do Vale” blog, was found dead in Padre Paraíso, in the Jequitinhonha Valley region (Minas Gerais), on May 18, 2015; radio journalist Djalma Santos da Conceição, 54, was found dead in the village of Timbó, in a rural area of the municipality of Conceição da Feira (Bahia), on May 23, 2015; and radio journalist Gleydson Carvalho, 36, an on-air personality and director of Rádio Liberdade 90.3, was shot and killed in Camocim (Ceará) on August 6, 2015. In addition, this period saw six arrests, eight assaults, two acts of censorship, four attacks, three acts of intimidation and insults, and fifteen threats, as detailed below. It should be noted, however, that one case described in the previous report has since become been exacerbated in the wake of a decision by Supreme Court Justice Dias Toffoli, who cited procedural grounds in rejecting a claim brought by the National Journalists Association (ANJ). The ANJ was seeking to uphold the constitutional right to keep one’s sources confidential, on behalf of journalist Allan de Abreu and the newspaper Diário da Região of São José do Rio Preto (São Paulo state). The case began on December 18, 2014, when Judge Dasser Lattiere Júnior of the 4th Federal Court of São José do Rio Preto (São Paulo) decided to lift the confidentiality of both parties’ phone records in order to reveal the source in a corruption case involving information from a police investigation. This ruling is extremely grave, as it could represent a serious threat to investigative journalism and specifically to reporting on corruption cases such as the so-called Operation Car Wash, which has led to the arrest of numerous politicians and business leaders. Despite the cases reported here and the grave political crisis unfolding in Brazil, it should be noted that, generally speaking, freedom of expression has been upheld and the media have freely carried out their duty to inform the Brazilian public. Below are the cases that have been reported in the past six months. September 10: A vehicle carrying a news crew for TV Record was struck by a gunshot at an entrance to Morro do Juramento, a shanty town in the neighborhood of Vicente de Carvalho in northern Rio de Janeiro. An operation of the 41st Military Police Battalion (Irajá) was underway at that location to combat drug trafficking and capture a local car theft ring. August 31: Reporter Geilson Ferreira and cameraman Alex Pereira, both of TV Tribuna, an affiliate of SBT in Espírito Santo, were assaulted by Adilson Pereira Ribeiro, who is suspected of sexually assaulting minors in Serra (Espírito Santo). August 21: Allan de Abreu, a journalist with the newspaper Diário da Região in São José do Rio Preto (São Paulo state), was charged by the Civil Police of the State of São Paulo with the crime of violating the secrecy of phone taps in stories published on August 31, 2014. In providing the rationale for the filing of charges, Airton Douglas, head of the 1st Police District of São José do Rio Preto, also charges the reporter with “fraudulent conduct” for having access to the records. Abreu denies both charges. August 12: Denilton Dias, a news photographer for O Tempo newspaper in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais), was struck by a rubber bullet while covering a protest in Belo Horizonte. August 9: News photographer Wesley Santos was detained by the Military Brigade of Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul) while covering the arrival of fans to the Arena do Grêmio stadium for a rivalry game between local soccer clubs. Wesley took photographs of a fight that broke out between fans, which was eventually broken up by the Military Brigade. August 6: Gleydson Carvalho, 36, an on-air personality and director of Rádio Liberdade 90.3, was shot and killed in Comicim (Ceará). According to radio journalist Zezinho Silva, two men pulled up on a motorcycle, stormed into the radio station, and fired two shots at Carvalho’s head. The journalist who was taken to Murilo Aguiar Hospital, where he later died. On August 26, 2015, seven people were charged by state prosecutors with involvement in the killing, which was likely spurred by the harsh criticism that Carvalho voiced on his radio show against the public administration in Martinópole (Ceará). August 3: Journalist and cartoonist Augusto Bier, of the Union of Bank Workers in Porto Alegre, was threatened in an anonymous phone call to his home after the publication of cartoons criticizing the governor of Rio Grande do Sul, José Ivo Sartori. June 19: Alessandro Neves Alves, the hit man charged in the March 2013 killing of Rodrigo Neto in Ipatingo (Minas Gerais), in the Aço Valley, was sentenced by a court in Minas Gerais to 16 years in high-security prison. In 2014, former civil police officer Lúcio Lírio Leal was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the same crime. During the trial, the defense attorney argued that the trial was plagued by a number of contradictions. June 17: Blogger Ed Soares was the victim of an attack in Barreiros (Pernambuco). He was returning home when he was approached by two men wielding a club and a firearm. He was struck in the head twice and then shot twice in the legs. June 12: Journalist Guilherme Assis, editor of Diário de Barão in Barão de Cocais (Minas Gerais), received a death threat by telephone in connection with a story on environmental damage. June 11: News photographer Wellington Macedo de Souza of Diário do Nordeste in Sobral (Ceará) was threatened by phone, and a civil police officer later posted information about him on Facebook. June 8: Reporter Leandro Stoliar, cameraman Rogério Gomes, and assistant André Carvalho were threatened at a restaurant in Santana do Pamaíba (São Paulo state). The crew was filming a report on a clandestine refrigerator in that city, and the restaurant where they were at the time was presumably among those receiving the “underground” beef. June 6: Journalist Paulo Cezar de Andrade Prado, who ran “Blog do Paulinho” (Paulinho’s Blog), was jailed for defamation as a result of a trial following charges brought by Miguel Aidar, former president of the São Paulo Football Club. The blogger was accused by Aidar of having violated his privacy by posting that he was recruiting a coach for the team, based on messages exchanged in a WhatsApp chat. Aidar is pressing four other charges against Paulinho, accusing him of defamation-related crimes. The blog publishes sports news on clubs in São Paulo, especially the Corinthians and São Paulo teams. July 5: Journalist Marivaldo Filho, political editor of the website Bocão News in Salvador (Bahia), used his personal Facebook page to denounce an attack by police. The incident occurred while he was leaving a birthday party at a friend’s house. The journalist reported that he was assaulted when he was taking photos of the assault by military police officers against his friend. May 28: Judge Christina Agostini Spadoni, of the 5th Family and Probate Court in São Paulo, ordered the online magazine Consultor Jurídico to take down a report on the inheritance of 393 million reales left by former Justice Minster Márcio Thomasz Bastos. In her ruling, the judge argued that the estate inventory process was under judicial secrecy and that the revelations in the report were a violation of the constitutional right to privacy. Spadoni held that there is no public interest in the matter. May 23: Radio journalist Djalma Santos da Conceição, 54, was found dead in the village of Timbó, in a rural part of the municipality of Conceição da Feira (Bahia). He was the host of the program “Acorda Cidade” on the community radio station RCA FM. According to the journalist’s brother, three men wearing hoods abducted him on May 22 at around 11:00 p.m. from his kiosk in the municipality of Governador Mangabeira while he was conducting a samba dance. Djalma was reportedly forced into the trunk of a white vehicle by these men, who then fled the scene. The police believe that the journalist was tortured before being executed. Djalma was found with his tongue cut off and his right eye removed, as well as 15 bullet wounds to his body. The gunshots were to his right eye, leg, chest, stomach, and chin. Djalma was very well known in the area for his opinions. The family said that he was constantly being threatened. May 20: Marcos Vieira, a news photographer for the newspaper O Itaboraí in Rio de Janeiro, was shot while accompanying an operation of the 12th Military Police Battalion (Niterói) and the Special Police Operations Battalion at the Varadouro Complex in Niterói (Rio de Janeiro state). The gunshot struck Marcos in the arm. He was taken to Azevedo Lima State Hospital, where he was treated and released, but with the bullet still lodged inside him. May 18: Journalist Evany José Metzker, 67, who ran the “Coruja do Vale” blog, was found dead in Padre Paraíso, in the Jequitinhonha Valley region (Minas Gerais). According to the Military Police in Pedra Azul (Minas Gerais), after receiving an anonymous tip, police officers went to the location and found his semi-naked body with his hands tied. Evany’s head was found in a nearby ditch, 100 meters from the rest of his body, and was badly lacerated. It may have been dragged by dogs, which may have eaten the skin and eyes. The jaw was broken and separated from the head. The medical examiner noted that there was evidence of anal bleeding and bruising of the genitalia. The examiner determined that the body had been at that location for about five days. The killer had left the body alongside the road, just a few meters from a deep ravine. The police have eliminated robbery as a motive, since a credit card, watch, and gold ring were found near the journalist’s body. Evany’s blog had denounced crimes and political irregularities in municipal governments in the region. May 6: The Public Prosecutor’s Office of Rio de Janeiro filed two appeals against the 8th Circuit Court in Rio de Janeiro following the dismissal of aggravated murder charges against Fábio Raposo and Caio Silva de Souza for the killing of Santiago Andrade, a cameraman for TV Bandeirantes. Andrade was killed in February 2014 after being struck in the head by a firework. According to the news website G1, the prosecution appealed to the Superior Court of Justice on the grounds that the judges had not fully understood the prosecution’s arguments. Another appeal was submitted to the Federal Superior Court on the grounds that the decision of the 8th Circuit Court had denied jurors their exclusive authority to render judgments on crimes against life, as opposed to what had actually happened, when the decision was made by a judge. With this appeal, the prosecution hopes that the charges of aggravated homicide are reinstated. May 5: Staff members at Tocantins Public Radio were assaulted by a guard at the Palmas General Hospital (Tocantins). The victims of the assault were a cameraman, a reporter, and a driver employed by the hospital. April 24: Reporter Michele Barros, a producer, and a cameramen for Rede Globo, and two cameramen from SBT came under attack while covering a protest by teachers in São Paulo. According to the Military Police, the three professionals for Rede Globo were chased for three blocks by members of “black blocs.” The pursuit lasted about 20 minutes. April 13: Journalists Giovanna Consentini, Felipe Paiva, and Wesley Passas of the group “Journalistas Livres” (Free Journalists) were detained while they were covering the occupation of an empty plot of land in Jabaquara, southern São Paulo. The journalists were taken to the 26th Precinct in Sacomã, where they were held for questioning. The reporters observed the negotiation between leaders of the movement and the Metropolitan Police, which was trying to convince those carrying out the occupation to leave the area before the Military Police arrived. April 12: Beto Novaes, a photographer for the newspaper O Estado de Minas, was assaulted by demonstrators while covering a protest against the Workers’ Party government in Belo Horizonte (Minas Gerais). According to Novaes, the attack occurred because of his physical resemblance to former president Lula. April 9: James Alberti, director of the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism and a producer at RPC TV, the Rede Globo affiliate in Paraná, received a death threat while covering a corruption case in the municipality of Londrina (Paraná). April 7: Fabiano Rocha, a photographer for Extra newspaper in Rio de Janeiro, was threatened in messages on Facebook and WhatsApp. The threats came after Fabiano had taken a picture of a military police officer from the Special Operations Battalion wearing a ninja cap during an operation at the Alemão Complex in Rio de Janeiro. April 6: The Union of Professional Journalists of Paraná (Sindijor, Paraná) denounced that the right of journalists to keep their sources confidential was coming under threat for Felippe Aníbal, Diego Ribeiro, Albari Rosa, and Mauri König of the newspaper Gazeta do Povo in Curitiba and for Lina Hamdar of Metro newspaper in Curitiba. March 30: Dinarte Assunção, a journalist for the website Portal no Ar, was sentenced to two months and 20 days behind bars, a sentence that was converted to a fine of nearly 4,000 reales, for a story in which he questioned the use of coffins bearing the stamp of the municipal government of Mossoró (Rio Grande do Norte). March 20: Judge Cláudio Ferreira de Souza of the 5th Civil Court of Vitória (Espírito Santo) approved the motion for an injunction filed by the defense for Governor Paulo Hartung (of the PMDB) to suppress a story run by the newspaper Século Diário in Vitória on September 27, 2014. The injunction calls for immediate compliance with the court’s order, or else a fine of 10,000 reales will be assessed for failure to comply.