In the last six months we continued to regret several episodes that demonstrate difficulties for the proper exercise of journalism and the lack of understanding regarding the freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of the nation.
The conduct of President Jair Bolsonaro is the most eloquent evidence of this climate of confrontation with journalism. In an authoritarian and aggressive way, often rude, the president is characterized by its permanent confrontation to the professionals of the press and communication companies. On August 23, the president threatened, with profanity, to physically attack a journalist from O Globo who asked him about the deposit of suspicious amounts in the bank account of First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro, between 2011 and 2016.
During press interviews at Palácio da Alvorada, the official residence of the Head of the Brazilian Government, supporters of the head of government felt encouraged to also verbally attack press professionals. This went to the point that several media outlets determined that their professionals were no longer present at the location, given the evident risk to their physical integrity. The president then stopped granting these interviews on the spot.
But the president's attacks on journalism continue through his lives and posts on social media. With this, he stimulates the virtual attacks against journalists and communication companies, made in the internet environment, in social networks, blogs or profiles on digital platforms. People unhappy with the journalistic work, usually supporters of the Bolsonaro government, post insults and threats, seeking to constrain the free exercise of the activity. There are thousands of virtual attacks a day.
On the other hand, it should be noted that the same Judicial Power that so many times makes decisions or demonstrations in favor of the constitutional principle of freedom of the press, unfortunately at other times act as a censor. In the last six months, at least three cases of judicial censorship have occurred in the county - against GGN digital journal, TV Globo and TV RBS -, in a demonstration that the different institutions of the Brazilian Judicial Power, in different regions do country, persist in disrespecting the full freedom of the press defined by the Brazilian Constitution.
Physical violence against journalists also continues. Proof of that was the murder of journalist Leonardo Pinheiro, of the digital journal A Voz Ararumense, shot dead on the 13th of May in the city of Araruama, state of Rio de Janeiro. He denounced cases of corruption in that municipality.
Other cases registered in this period:
On May 25, the Globo Group, the Folha de SP newspaper, he Metropoles Group, the UOL news portal and the Band Group, decided to interrupt their coverage from the area destined for the press close to the Palácio da Alvorada due to the insults received from supporters of the president Jair Bolsonaro who almost invaded that place without be contained by security forces.
In June, the National Network for the Protection of Communicators filed a complaint in Brasília (DF) against the omission of the Federal Government to guarantee the personal security of journalists and communicators in that area.
In July, journalist Bianca Santana related, during the 44th session of the Council of Human Rights of the UN, misogynistic attacks by President Jair Bolsonaro directed at her and other communicators in exercise of the profession.
On August 21 the Civilian Police of Alegrete, in Rio Grande do Sul, indicted two military police officers for assault and abuse of authority in the case involving the beating, occurred in June 2020, of freelance reporter Alex Stanrlei and director of the journal Em Questão, Paulo of Tarso Pereira. An army aspirant was also indicted for failure to provide assistance.
On August 25, judge Leonardo Grandmasson Ferreira Chaves, of the 32nd City Council of Rio de Janeiro, determined that the GGN site, edited by journalist Luis Nassif, has to withdraw all the reports related to irregularities in shares of BTG Pactual and in bids involving the Blue Zone company.
Rede Globo reported on August 31 the existence of a group of Rio de Janeiro city government officials led by an aide to Mayor Marcelo Crivella to prevent journalists from covering the health system in the capital of Rio de Janeiro.
In a preliminary injunction issued on September 4, the judge of 1st instance Cristina Feijó, of the 33rd Civil Court of the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice, prohibited the broadcasting by TV Globo of documents related to investigations against Senator Flávio Bolsonaro.
On September 29, the Minister of Economy, Paulo Guedes, denied access to documents that underlie the Administrative Reform pending in the National Congress on the grounds that they were "preparatory documents" and that they would only be released after approval of the Constitutional Amendment Proposal (PEC ).
In October, reporter Pedro Zambarda, do Diário do Centro do Mundo (DCM), was threatened with death after the publiciation of a report on crimes of hate in the Internet involving Leonardo Antonio Corona Ramos, former assessor of the state deputy Conte Lopes (PP-SP ).
On October 6, civil society entities, including the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) and Article19, denounced during the 177th hearing period of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) violations of freedom of expression and freedom of the press and of the law of access to information in Brazil, including intimidation, defamation, verbal aggression and other attacks on journalists and communicators, apart from disinformation campaigns by the Federal Government.
On October 14, Valeriano Abreu (PSL, Social Liberal Party), who is running for mayor in Anápolis, state of Goiás, assaulted the journalist Weber Witt during an interview for Radio 96 FM, in Anápolis. Witt said he was attacked after asking Abreu a question.
On October 19, three journalists of Grupo Globo, Ana Thaís Matos, Rodrigo Capelo and Carlos Cereto, who work for SportTV, had their personal cell phone numbers leaked in WhatsApp groups, and Marília Ruiz, a blogger for UOL Esporte and a commentator for Band, received threats. They had informed that soccer player Robinho wouldn't be hired by Santos sports club after being convicted of rape in Italy. Fans who defended hiring Robinho were responsible for the attacks.
On October 20, two journalists who work for TV Liberal, one of Rede Globo's affiliates in the state of Pará, were victims of false imprisonment by members of the Evangelical church Assembly of God (Assembleia de Deus) in the city of Belém, while covering the aftermath of a flood in the area.
On October 21, Abraji (Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism) published the results of a survey about attacks to the press that showed a 73% increase in stigmatizing speeches from government officials against journalists.
The Law Project (PL) 2,874/2020 proposed by Senator Weverton Rocha Marques de Sousa (PDT-MA) proposed to aggravate the crime of bodily injury against media professionals in the exercise of their profession or because of it. The aggravation of punishment will also apply to attacks on family members of journalists.
Less than a month before the municipal elections scheduled for November 15, 2020, the Ctrl + X project team found 458 candidates for mayor, vice mayor or councilor, who presented -in exercise of elective mandates- at least one process of content removal. When all the actions were added, the survey raised 732 legal disputes - more than 200 lawsuits were filed against the media.