Report to the Midyear Meeting

Panama, Panama

March 6 – 9, 2015

The status of freedom of expression in Brazil has improved. There were no murders of journalists recorded during the period and there has been a significant reduction in the number of other kinds of attacks against the press in the country.

There has been a notable reduction in judicial censorship. It must be said, however, that such restriction of freedom of expression occurs most frequently during election seasons. Between October 1, 2014 and February 15, 2015, during the last phase of lst year's electoral campaigns, the National Newspaper Association (ANJ) recorded and followed one case of judicial censorship. The arbitrary ruling occurred on December 18, 2014.

A decision by Judge Dasser Lattiere Júnior, of the Fourth Federal Court of São José do Rio Preto (SP), approved the breaking of the telephone secrecy of journalist Allan de Abreu and of the newspaper Diário da Região, for the purpose of discovering the source for a report on a case of corruption in which information was used from a confidential police investigation.

On January 8, though a lawsuit brought by the ANJ, Justice Ricardo Lewandowski, Chairman the Federal Supreme Court (STF), suspended preliminarily the decision of Judge Lattiere Júnior. In his finding, Lewandowski stated that the decision of the Fourth Court judge violated the constitutional right to keep sources confidential.

The following cases have been recorded over the past six months:

January 27: Journalist Fernando Otto, of the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a protest against the increase in public transport fares in São Paulo (SP).

January 23: Journalist Edgar Maciel, of the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, was hit on the leg by a rubber bullet shot by the Military Police while he was covering a demonstration against the increase in the price of public transportation in São Paulo (SP).

January 16: Photographer Felipe Larozza, of the magazine Vice, was attacked by a military policeman while covering a protest by the Free Pass Movement (MPL) against the increase in prices of public transportation in São Paulo (SP). Larozza received a blow to his back from a nightstick as he passed through a swatting line. Along with some twenty demonstrators, he was forced by the police through a narrow passage between a wall and a news stand.

January 9: Journalists Renato Vargas, host of crime and political programs on several radio stations in Ribeirão Preto (SP), was the target of an attack on his residence in Bonfim Paulista, District of Ribeirão Preto (SP). In the company of two witnesses, the journalist told the police that four shots had been fired against the gate and living room door of his house, at around 12:50 that day. Crime-scene investigators went to the area and picked up the shells. The journalist affirms that he had been threatened with death, and he believes that the shots are a threat because of his call from the Prosecutor's Office to give his deposition in a criminal case under secret investigation by the Justice Department.

November 30: Reporter Bruno Cassucci, of the website Lance!Net, was attacked by military police while covering a confrontation between the Military Police and fans of Santos and Botafogo soccer teams at the Vila Belmiro Stadium in Santos (SP).

November 27: Cameraman Lucas do Carmo Alves, of television station Vale do Xingu, an affiliate of the SBT network in Pará state, suffered an attack when arriving home in the Boa Esperança neighborhood of Altamira (PA). The cameraman was in the SBT vehicle when two criminals took ten shots at the car, four of which hit the cameraman.

November 25: Journalist Thayanne Magalhães of the website Tribuna Hoje, in Maceió (AL), was threatened by Anne Katharine Ventura, who supposedly did not like a story done by the reporter about a rape case in which the victim was her nine-year-old daughter. The story told the version of family members of furniture assembler José Jordão, who had been arrested as a suspect.

November 15: Photographic reporter Marlene Bergamo, of the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, was attacked by demonstrators during coverage of a demonstration in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff (PT), on Avenida Paulista in São Paulo (SP). The reporter's recording was disseminated in a Facebook posting.

November 10: Reporter Henrique Soares, of the website GI Rio de Janeiro (RJ), was taken hostage and attacked by criminals in the "Complexo do Alemão," a group of shantytowns in Bom Sucesso, North Zone of the city. Soares was preparing a report on the lack of homes and the invasion of lands in abandoned areas of Rio de Janeiro.

November 1: Reporters Gustavo Uribe, of the Folha de S. Paulo, and Ricardo Chapola, of O Estado de S. Paulo, were threatened on social networks by groups unhappy with the results of the presidential election of 2014. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, the threats occurred after the journalists published texts about the demonstration held on November 1 on Avenida Paulista (SP), in favor of impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. The reporters were accused of being partisan, and received threats of violence and persecution, supposedly on the part of military policemen. In addition to the verbal threats and aggression, they had their Twitter and Facebook profiles were published on blogs.

October 29: Cameraman João Selara and producer Juliana Barriviera, employees of TV TEM (an affiliate of Rede Globo in Sorocaba (SP)), were attacked by a security guard in front of the Regional Department of Health of São José do Rio Preto (SP). The two professionals went to the place after having received complaints from residents about delays in the delivery of medications.

October 24: The headquarters of Editora Abril in Pinheiros, West Zone of São Paulo (SP), was the target of an attack committed by persons protesting against a report that appeared that same day in the magazine Veja, published by Abril. The article that brought about the attack concerned the bribery scandal at state-owned oil company Petrobrás, and stated that money-changer Alberto Youssef had declared in a deposition to the Federal Police that President Dilma Rousseff and ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva were aware of the alleged corruption scheme at Petrobrás to fuel the campaigns of the Workers Party.

October 16: Rachel Sheherazade, a hostess on the SBT television network, sought help to denounce an internet surfer who had threatened her with death. On Facebook, she posted text and a picture that show messages from João Paulo Silva Neri. According to Sheherazade, that was not the first time that she had received threats.