Rousseff administration takes steps, but impunity still haunts the World Cup host
Brasilia, May 6, 2014–Brazil is home to a vibrant investigative press, but journalists are murdered regularly and their killers go free. The media is also subject to legal harassment that drains resources and censors important stories, according to a special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists released today.
Brazil’s new law on Internet rights is viewed as a model for how governments should approach Internet legislation, but contains flaws that could harm free expression. During the 2014 FIFA World Cup, all of these contradictions will be on vivid display, says the report, titled Halftime for the Brazilian press: Will justice prevail over censorship and violence?
Brazil is the 11th deadliest country in the world for journalists, and at least 10 have been murdered in direct reprisal for their work since President Dilma Rousseff came to power. Provincial journalists are far more affected than their colleagues in major urban centers, the report finds. Despite a recent flurry of convictions, violence is increasing. Journalists covering widespread protests over the past year have been harassed and attacked.
“Unsolved murders of journalists and judicial censorship do not match the country’s aspirations as a regional and global leader,” said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator Carlos Lauria. “As soccer fans and journalists head to Brazil for the World Cup, President Rousseff must show the will to tackle impunity, end legal harassment, and ensure reporters can safely cover demonstrations, allowing press freedom to thrive.”
Judicial censorship–the practice of politicians, business people, and celebrities using privacy laws and defamation suits to silence the media–is widely considered the second biggest problem after violence for journalists in Brazil. The targets range from major metropolitan dailies and Internet companies like Google to independent bloggers in remote towns. Meanwhile, Brazil’s landmark law on Internet rights, the Marco Civil da Internet, signed into law on April 23, is instructive for how governments and civil society should approach Internet regulation–and which legislative outcomes are in the best interest of Internet providers and users, including journalists, the report says.
In the report’s recommendations, CPJ calls on Brazilian authorities to expand the national protection program for human right defenders to explicitly include journalists under imminent threat; enact legal reforms that would federalize crimes against free expression; and develop procedures and training for law enforcement agencies to ensure that journalists can cover demonstrations around the World Cup without fear of attack or retribution.
CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide
Note to editors:
The report is published in English and Portuguese. Interviews may be arranged in English and Spanish in Brasilia, Sao Paulo, and New York. CPJ encourages use of the hashtag #SegundoTempo on social media.
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Americas Senior Program Coordinator
Email: [email protected]