Brazil restates commitment to press freedom, UN plan

CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil’s permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country’s support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

The letter, which you can read in full here, responds to concerns CPJ expressed in an April 17 blog noting that India, Pakistan, and Brazil–countries with high rates of unsolved journalist killings–had raised objections to the plan’s draft at a UNESCO inter-governmental council debate in March. The action plan, which proposes measures for U.N. agencies to improve coordination and develop programs to protect journalists and combat impunity in cases of anti-press violence, has since been approved by the U.N. Chief Executives Board and steps for implementation should be laid out soon.  

CPJ welcomes the plan’s adoption, but its impact will be defined by how far states are willing to go to cooperate and back it. That is why endorsement from countries such as Brazil, which face tough battles to convict perpetrators and rein in attacks against journalists in their countries and are also highly influential in regional and global forums, is so important. 

One way Brazil could show its leadership and commitment? By voicing loud, unequivocal support for the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the human rights monitoring body of the Organization of American States, and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression. Some Latin American leaders, led by Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa, have proposed restricting the activity of the IACHR and limiting the funding of the special rapporteur.

“Brazil prides itself on its democratic credentials and on the freedom that the press enjoys in the country,” Ribeiro states in the letter. Following through on its commitment to the U.N. action plan and standing up to Correa’s attempts to debilitate the Inter-American human rights system would go far to strengthen those credentials.