São Paulo court bans local paper from printing officials’ names

MARCH 24, 2008
Posted April 22, 2008

Tribuna das Águas


On March 24, a civil court in Águas de Lindóia, a city in the southeastern state of São Paulo, banned the local weekly Tribuna das Águas from publishing the names of government officials under penalty of a large fine, according to press reports and CPJ interviews.

In her decision, Judge Fernanda Helena Benevides Dias said the weekly will be ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Brazilian reals (US$3,000) a day each time it “publishes news with the names or images of public officials with relation to services, works, acts, and programs of the public administration.”

The decision stems from a September 2007 civil suit brought by local prosecutor Rafael Beluci, who claims that Tribuna das Águas promoted local government officials by printing their names in articles detailing the administration’s work. In the claim, Beluci argued that the daily broke several constitutional provisions stating that the acts of public administrations should be impersonal. The prosecutor added that the local government’s department of public relations provided most of the government-related news and pictures printed in the paper. In an interview with CPJ, Eliane Ribeiro do Prado, owner of Tribuna das Águas, denied the accusations. She said the paper appealed the decision last week to the Tribunal São Paulo’s Justice Tribunal, the state’s highest state court.