Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City in September 2022. (Reuters/Brendan McDermid)

CPJ submits report on Brazil to United Nations Universal Periodic Review

Brazil’s human rights record is under review by the United Nations Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

This U.N. mechanism is a peer-review process that surveys the human rights performance of member states, monitoring progress from previous review cycles, and presents a list of recommendations on how a country can better fulfill its human rights obligations. It also allows civil society organizations to submit their reports and recommendations.

Earlier this year, CPJ submitted a report assessing the state of press freedom and journalist safety in Brazil ahead of its review before the UPR Working Group, scheduled for November 14, during the Working Group’s 41st session.

Brazil accepted the two recommendations about journalists’ safety and physical integrity during its last UPR cycle in 2017. However, CPJ’s new analysis concluded that Brazil has failed to implement those recommendations, and press freedom conditions have only deteriorated since then.

As CPJ’s submission indicates, journalists in Brazil face threats, online harassment, physical violence, and civil and criminal lawsuits, often for their coverage of sensitive issues.

Impunity in cases of journalists killed remains extremely high, crimes against journalists are rarely investigated, and perpetrators often go unpunished, fueling the cycle of violence against the press, even as public officials have increasingly utilized anti-press rhetoric and attempted to limit transparency and access to information.

Criminal defamation laws are used to harass and imprison journalists, and civil lawsuits demanding content removal and imposing gag orders raise concerns about increasing censorship.

In the document, CPJ made seven recommendations about press freedom and the safety of journalists to the government of Brazil, which include establishing an effective and adequately resourced mechanism to protect at-risk journalists that is tailored to address journalists’ needs; ensuring prompt, thorough investigations into killings of journalists and that all perpetrators, including masterminds, face justice promptly; and decriminalizing slander, defamation, and injury (“crimes against honor”).

CPJ’s UPR submission on Brazil is available in English here.