Report - Mid-Year Meeting April 17 - 19, 2024

During this period, there was a trend of decrease in violence indices against journalists and media, violence that had escalated after the anti-democratic acts of January 8, 2023, when thousands of radicals invaded and vandalized the headquarters of the three public powers in Brasilia. However, concerns still include harassment and judicial censorship, attacks perpetrated by public agents, and the tactic of intimidation through social networks against journalists, especially women.

A possible case of judicial censorship is the Federal Supreme Court (STF) decision in a 2023 trial that determined that the media could be held responsible for defamation or slander uttered by an interviewee. On March 8, 2024, the STF published the ruling with the final text of the Legal Thesis approved by the Court. The leading organizations defending press and expression freedoms in the country, such as the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ), warned that the decision negatively affects press freedom and could lead to an increase in self-censorship and a more significant restriction in the dissemination of content of public interest, in addition to the possibility of deletion of texts, videos, and photos.

Immediately after the ruling was published, the Diario de Pernambuco presented arguments to the STF (Supreme Federal Court) —the newspaper filed Declarations of Embargo— in an attempt to modify the content of the Court's decision that allows for the civil liability of journalistic companies for statements made by interviewees. The newspaper requests that the application of the Thesis approved by the justices be suspended until its appeal is resolved. Declarations of Embargo, in the judicial process, act as a sort of last resort that rarely reverses the merit of the decision but can alter its content, according to a report by Folha de S. Paulo. According to the law, embargoes are permissible when there is, in the ruling, "obscurity, contradiction, omission, or doubt."

The initiative by the Diario de Pernambuco aims to correct some errors in the ruling and improve the wording of the Thesis, mainly by removing the subjective aspects concerning the expressions "duty of care" and "concrete indications." The newspaper also suggests that, in revising the Thesis, a clarification made by the President of the STF, Luís Roberto Barroso, be included. The paper proposed adding to the text the statement that the medium "is not responsible for the interviewee's statement unless malice is proven, characterized by the existence of actual malice (prior knowledge of the falsehood of the statement) or conditional malice (absolute negligence in verifying the truthfulness of the doubtful facts)." It would determine the responsibility of the media and, at the same time, would not stop the repression of the dissemination of misinformation. Regarding the merits, the newspaper requested that the embargoes be granted with sanctioning effects to reform or modify the published decision.

In March, STF Justice Edson Fachin accepted the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji) request to become an amicus curiae in General Repercussion Theme 995. The entity submitted the request along with a Declaratory embargo appeal to clarify the terms of the ruling. Abraji suggests a series of changes to adapt the Thesis to the limits of the case and the discussions raised by the justices during the trial. Among these changes, it proposes that there should not be the possibility of eliminating content, in addition to clarifying that the media's responsibility would only occur in cases of malice in disseminating false information. It also requests that ambiguous and obscure terms used in the approved text, such as "concrete indications" that would demonstrate the falseness of a statement and the necessary care to avoid liability, be qualified and explained.

Justice Fachin requested that the parties present their arguments, given the tremendous constitutional importance of press and communication freedoms and considering the possibility of assigning sanctioning effects to the ruling. The ANJ will request changes to the Thesis so that the journalistic company is only responsible when there is no doubt about the falsity of the information, and there is proven lousy faith on the part of the media in its dissemination.

During this period, other cases of judicial censorship were recorded. On January 11, the 6th Civil Chamber of the Federal District and Territories Court of Justice (TJDFT) ordered the removal of an episode of the podcast produced by Agência Pública from June 24, 2023, and a publication from the column of the executive director, Marina Amaral, about interviews given by Jullyene Lins, the ex-wife of the President of the Chamber of Deputies Arthur Lira, who accused him of sexual violence and other crimes.

Other significant events:

On October 2, reporter Bianca Chaboudet, from InterTV, an affiliate of TV Globo in Maricá (RJ), was harassed by a man during a live broadcast on the channel's news program. While discussing the local government's actions to prevent drownings on the municipality's beaches, the reporter was surprised by a stranger who attempted to kiss her on the cheek forcibly. The man was identified by the police, taken to the station, and charged with sexual harassment.

On October 21, 2023, the editor and owner of the Contraponto site from Bauru (SP), Nelson Gonçalves, also known as Nelson Itaberá, was subjected to espionage after he reported several irregularities related to the administration of the mayor of Bauru, Suéllen Rosim (Republicans), who is running for re-election in the 2024 municipal elections.

The espionage was revealed by Councilman Eduardo Borgo (Novo) during a city council session. According to Borgo, a report prepared by hacker Patrick César da Silva Brito —the subject of an investigation in the criminal process being conducted in secret in the municipality of Araçatuba (SP)— confirmed that he was hired by the mayor's brother-in-law, Walmir Henrique Vitorelli Braga, to compile information in a dossier about the journalist's life and use it against him.

On October 25, in a speech about the 10-month management review, the then Secretary of Public Security of São Paulo, Guilherme Derrite, stated that part of the São Paulo press is scoundrel, publishes "fake news," and works in the service of crime.

On January 15, reporter João Vitor Brum, from Inter TV, an affiliate of Globo in Cabo Frio (RJ), was assaulted by a man during the coverage of a young man's disappearance in the Araruama Lagoon. Brum was following the search operations carried out by the Firefighters when the man, allegedly a friend of the victim, lunged at the journalist. In addition to physical violence, the attacker destroyed and threw the reporter's equipment into the water.

On February 25, reporter Gisele Kümpel, from Canal Monumental, was hugged and kissed without consent by the mascot performer of Sport Club Internacional during the Gre-Nal classic at the Beira-Rio Stadium, Porto Alegre (RS). The sexual harassment occurred in the final minutes of the match when the journalist was narrating Internacional's third goal, and the man approached, hugged, and kissed her. Brazil