Demonstrators gather in defense of democracy in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro stormed Brazil's Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace, on January 9, 2023. (Reuters/Lucas Landau)

Legal aid resources in Brazil: A guide for journalists facing legal action

For a journalist facing criminal or civil lawsuits in retaliation for their reporting, having access to relevant legal advice and resources to finance their legal representation can mean the difference between a prison sentence and freedom, censorship and the free flow of information, being economically suffocated or having the ability to continue reporting.

In recent years, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other press freedom groups have expressed concern over an alarming increase in cases in which Brazil’s judicial system is weaponized against journalists and media outlets to stifle and discourage reporting. These legal attacks take many forms, including direct censorship and removal of content through civil lawsuits, criminalization of journalists through slander and defamation investigations and judicial procedures, and attempts to undermine or compromise source confidentiality.

Many journalists in Brazil do not have access to lawyers who specialize in press freedom issues or the resources to pay for legal services. Furthermore, many of them are not aware of several initiatives and organizations that can provide support for journalists and media workers facing legal action, much less how to contact these resources for help.

In response to this critical issue, CPJ has worked with local partners to compile this directory of resources providing different types of legal aid to help connect journalists in Brazil in need of legal support with the initiatives and organizations that can support them. The guide lists various initiatives that can provide support to journalists facing lawsuits, along with a brief description of the type of support provided and information about how journalists can contact them to request support.