During this period, the situation of freedom of the press has been marked by an increase in the number of murders of journalism professionals and business people.
At the same time, the recurring scene of judicial censorship continues, as described before, with court decisions that prohibit newspapers, radio and TV stations, websites, and blogs from publishing reports on a number of topics.
As recorded in the previous report, the discretionary powers of judges are growing, especially at the lowest levels, in granting restraining orders, reparations for moral damages, and exercise of right of reply.
The sluggishness of the Brazilian justice system not only contributes to impunity in cases of attacks on media outlets and professional journalists, but also prolongs the time that censorship measures are in effect as adopted by the lower courts while the respective appeals are being decided.
A serious example of this situation is the case of the outlets of the Grupo Estado, which remains unchanged, as they are prohibited from publishing information resulting from the recordings obtained by the Federal Police of Maranhão on supposed irregularities practiced by businessman Fernando Sarney, son of José Sarney, President of the Senate and former President of the Republic. The newspaper continues to await a decision on appeal.
In São Paulo, articles published on benefits included in the remuneration of members of the Justice Branch have provoked irritating statements by the President of the Court of Justice, Appeals Judge Ivan Sartori, against the press, as, for example: “There exists a campaign to denigrate the justice system of São Paulo. I repudiate this movement, starting primarily with the newspapers O Estado de São Paulo and the Folha de São Paulo.” The president of the Court of Justice was referring to the publication and discussion in the newspapers of the structural problems of the justice system and of the personal problems of some magistrates. The following are also among their statements and threats: “If you do not retract, or do not explain this very carefully, you will receive 345 suits. I am going to sue and I will win a lot of money from you. And you are going to have to pay all of the 354 [appeals judges]. You can put that in your text.” “I am going to speak up. We have the CNJ and you do not want the National Council of Journalism. You would be more responsible.”
In the legislative area, thre are both positive and negative things to report. On the positive side is the fact that President Dilma Rousseff has signed Law no. 12.527 of November 18, 2011, which regulates the constitutional citizens’ right to access to public information. The Law is applicable to the three branches of government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial) and at the three levels of government (federal, state, and municipal) and goes into effect next May 1.
On the negative side, there is the proposal for a constitutional amendment, no. PEC 33/2009 (Senate) which adds an article, 220-A, to the Federal Constitution, to speak to the need for a diploma from a college-level course in social communications, and licensing for exercise of the profession, which was approved on its first reading by the Senate on November 30, 2011. Before being considered by the Chamber of Deputies, it must be voted on at a second reading by the senators on a date to be determined.
Also on the negative side was the approval, last March 14, by the Committee on the Constitution and Justice of the Federal Senate, of a bill that would regulate the constitutional provision on Right of Reply. That right was regulated under the old Press Law, revoked by the Federal Supreme Court in 2009, and had been applied in different forms by the courts. The text approved, although better than the original bill, contains provisions that would possibly impact freedom of expression, such as the possibility that the request for the right of reply be granted at the earliest stages in monocratic decisions made at the lowest judicial levels, which, in practice, makes the decision irreversible, unless, in deciding on its merit, the decision should come under review.
The vote of Brazil, together with that of Cuba, Venezuela, India and Pakistan, against immediate approval of a UNESCO resolution intended to give greater security to press professionals around the world, last March in Paris, provoked numerous protests around the country. Itamaraty [the state department] in answering a question by the ANJ, affirmed that it is not against the plan, but it is opposed to approval of the text as it was presented, without the possibility of making changes. According to the Attaché for Communication of the Ministry, what the Brazilian delegation proposed was that the text be submitted to consultation with member states. The Brazilian diplomats argued, moreover, that “the majority of cases (of death of journalists) found in Brazil are not directly related to their professional activities.” The report presented to the IAPA for the period from October to March in regard to cases of murder of journalists does not corroborate the affirmation of the diplomats: of the five journalists murdered in Brazil over the past six months, early investigations and evidence, according to the police, indicate that three of them were killed because of their journalistic work.
During this period thirty cases were recorded of crimes and violence against the press, including murders, assaults, and attacks.
Three murders of professional journalists were recorded during this period, with clear evidence that the crimes were related to their professional work. Other murder cases were not included here because there are relevant indications that they were motivated by other causes.
Most important events during the period:
February 13, 2012: Journalist Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues, editor-in-chief of the Jornal da Praça and director of the news website Mercosulnews.com, was killed by gunshot in Porta Porã, MS, xclose to the Paraguayan border. Police chief Clemir Vieira Júnior reported that the death of the journalist may have been a case of a paid murder. On March 6, Wantuir Brasil, Secretary of Public Safety of Mato Grosso do Sul, declared that he considered that the investigations into the death of the journalist were “progressing well,” although the killers have not yet been identified by the Civil Police of MS.
February 9, 2012: Journalist Mário Randolfo Marques Lopes, news editor of the website Vassouras na net was murdered in Barra do Piraí (RJ). He was apparently accosted, along with his wife, and taken to a highway where they were executed. According to information from the police, the journalist had a lot of enemies, since he had published controversial reports and revealed supposed irregularities involving government agencies, authorities, and politicians. The double murder was reported to the 88th Police Precinct (Barra do Piraí), but up to the writing of this report, there had not been any information released about suspects and the circumstances of the crime.
January 3, 2012: A reporter from the station Rádio Sucesso, Laércio de Souza, was killed by gunshot in Camaçari, in the State of Bahia. The murder occurred after a series of threats were sent to the victim’s cellphone, moments before the crime, from local drug traffickers. The journalist took three shots. According to the theory of the investigators, the victim’s social projects bothered some people linked to organized crime. The producer of Rádio Sucesso, Aline Marques, did not make any reference to threats related to Laércio’s activities while working at the station. On January 7, 2012, a sixteen-year-old teenager was arrested, suspected of murdering the reporter. The young man confessed to the crime and said that he was seeking revenge because the journalist had reported him to the police. A witness recognized the suspect but his name was not divulged.
In addition to these three murders, we report below on eight cases of assault, one of arrest, six of judicial censorship, six attacks, and six threats, for IAPA records. March 23, 2012: A team of reporters from TV Record was assaulted while doing a report on an accident in Salvador, BA. The driver of the car, Renata Andrade Brandão assaulted cameraman Cleiton Cintra, reporter Juliana Amaral and the team’s producer. The group filed a complaint at the 14th Precinct in Barra, Salvador.
March 13, 2012: Reporter-cameraman Itamar Silva, of the program “Picarelli com Você” of Record TV (MS), was assaulted while trying to film an accident involving a car and a motorcycle in Campo Grande, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the assailant taking the reporter’s equipment and the tape of the report.
February 29, 2012: A reporter from Rádio Ágape and head of the Jornal da Cidade, Flávio Barcz, was assaulted by the municipal Secretary of Public Safety of Campo Largo (metropolitan area of Curitiba, state of Paraná), Benedito Facini. The assault occurred when the secretary approached him and questioned him about the lack of information in his newspaper on cases being investigated by the Municipal Guard.
February 29, 2012: Reporter Osvaldo Mesquita, responsible for the website Informatoz Webjornbalismo, was assaulted by the chairman of the City Council of Matozinhos (state of Minas Gerais), Emanual Ôba (of the PHS party), after a session in which the councilmen approved an increase in their salaries of 34%. Emanuel hit the reporter’s camera when asked about the defense of the raise that he had achieved in the session. Ôba accused the journalist of having told lies in a report ublished on February 8.
January 19, 2012: Journalist Jhone Souza, a reporter for the website 180graus, was assaulted and had his camera broken by a supposed guard who had infiltrated into the protest on the 14th day of the movement #Contraoaumento, [against the increase] in Teresina, PI. The assailant was said to be a security guard hired by the Union of Urban Transport Companies of Teresina (SETUT), who was dressed in street clothes and had infiltrated the demonstrators.
December 14, 2011: Journalist Edi Silva, a reporter for TV Vitoriosa, an affiliate of the SBT network in Uberlândia (state of Minas Gerais), was assaulted by Bruno Pereira Carneiro Cunha while preparing a report for the program Chumbo Grosso. Bruno attacked Edi Silva with blows and shoves. The journalist hurt one of his legs and cameraman Ronivon Santos was injured and had his camera broken.
November 24, 2011: Two photo journalists who were covering a strike of workers at Johnson & Johnson in São José dos Campos (state of São Paulo), were attacked by the police. Lucas Lacaz, a freelancer, was pepper sprayed and Nilton Cardin, of the newspaper ADC News, took blows from a club. Up to the date of this report, no new facts had been reported.
November 8, 2011: Cameraman Marcos Vinícius, of SBT, was struck by a rock during coverage of the occupation of the president’s office of the University of São Paulo. Fábio Fernandes, a cameraman from TV Record, was also assaulted. In addition, Alexandre Borba, another cameraman from TV Record, had the handle of his camera pulled, causing the equipment to fall, and photographer Cristiano Novaes, of the CPN agency, was kicked.
March 7, 2012: The broadcast tower of community radio station Rio Abaixo (87.9 FM) in Santo Antônio do Leverger (state of Mato Grosso) was damaged. According to the personnel from the station, the attack was retaliation from the political group that supports the mayor Harrison Ribeiro (SPDB). A police report was filed on the damage to the equipment and those responsible for the radio station solicited an investigation at the place of the crime. The document, directed to the police department of investigation, expressed the suspicion of political motivation for the attack, which took the station off the air. Since 2008 the station has suffered all types of attack in order to suspend its programming, such as robbery and acts of vandalism.
February 13, 2012: Radio reporter By Girl Lima, from Rádio Difusora and his colleague were shot in an murder attempt in Teresina (state of Piauí). The victims were aided and taken to the Emergency Hospital in Teresina. The reporter was hit in the leg with one shot and his colleague took three shots. Up to the date of preparation of this report, there was no further information available.
February 5, 2012: Company vehicles from the newspaper Folha de São Paulo and from TV Globo were stoned by a group of fans of the Ponte Preta team next to the stadium Moisés Lucarelli, in Campinas (state of São Paulo), before the game. No journalist suffered serious injury. The case was reported to the 5th Police Precinct in Campinas.
February 4, 2012: The offices of TV Oeste, affiliated with the Rede Bahia network, was the target of shots in Barreiras (state of Bahia). According to witnesses, two men on a motorcycle approached the station’s building and opened fire. The shots hit the façade and the main door to the station. No one was injured. No one responsible for the attack has been arrested.
January 23, 2012: A reporter from Rádio Brasil Atual, Lúcia Rodrigues, was the target of two gunshots by a member of the Metropolitan Civil Police of São José dos Campos (SP), during the act of retaking of the land occupied in Pinheirinho. Lúcia was covering a police operation when she was approached by a security agent. Even after identifying herself as a journalist, the officer took out his weapon and pointed it at her.
January 22, 2012: A vehicle of TV Vanguarda, an affiliate of the TV Globo network, was burned during the retaking of property that had been invaded in the Pinheirinho housing development in São José dos Campos (state of São Paulo). The area, where around 6,000 people live, is the target of a dispute between the invaders and the failed company that owns the land.
March 20, 2012: Journalist Paulo Silva, editor of the newspaper Folha do Estado do Amapá, revealed that he had received threats from businessman Luciano Maria Silva, one of the owners of the company LMS, which works in surveillance and private security in the state. According to Silva’s statement, since 2010 the company has been renewing, without bidding, a contract worth 43 million reais to provide surveillance to the state Secretary of Education (Seed) of Amapá.
March 7, 2012: Journalist and radio reporter Gustavo dos Santos, director of the Jornal Notícias do Estado, was threatened by a member and chairman of the City Council of Aquidauana (state of Mato Grosso do Sul), Clézio Bley Fialho. Gustavo appeared at the Civil Police Department of Aquidauana and filed his complaint. On his program on Rádio FM PAN 100.9, he had reported administrative improbity and misspent funds by the City Council.
January 18, 2012: Journalists from Limeira (state of São Paulo), received death threats through electronic messages after covering investigations of the State Prosecutor’s Office about relatives and others connected to the mayor of the city, Silvio Félix (PDT). The intimidating emails demanded that reporters of the Gazeta de Limeira, the Jornal de Limeira, and TV Jornal stop reporting on accusations of illicit enrichment that surround Félix’s relatives.
December 13, 2011: Journalist Claudio Dantas of the magazine Isto É was threatened by Ailton Queiroz, brother of the governor of the Federal District, Agnelo Queiroz, during a telephone interview. The journalist had sought out Ailton while researching for a report on the wealth history of the Queiroz family. Ailton, a former security guard, reacted with aggressiveness to the telephone contact from the reporter.
December 13, 2011: Journalist Ruy Sposati, who works for the movement “Xingu Vivo para Sempre” [Xingu Alive Forever], suffered death threats when he accompanied the firing of 80 workers from the Construction Consortium of Belo Monte (CCBM) on the Transamazon Highway in Altamira (state of Pará). Two unidentified men approached the journalist outside the CCBM building to threaten him. The journalist was not able to make a complaint with the Civil Police, but he did report the incident to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office in Altamira, who sent the case to the Attorney General’s Office (of the State Prosecutor) and to the Internal Affairs Office of the Military Police in Pará.
December 13, 2011: Journalist Lúcio Flávio Pinto was threatened by businessman Rodrigo Chaves, in Nazaré (state of Pará). The threat was due to mentions made by the journalist of Pinto in a report in the Jornal Pessoal about a fraud case, now in appeal, generated by Sudam (Superintendency of Development of the Amazon), involving a scheme of false receipts issued by the company Progec, for property belonging to Chaves.
March 20, 2012: The courts of Pará ruled that journalist Franssinete Florenzano must remove from his blog all publications about a councilman from Belém, Gervásio Morgado (PR). The order contemplates a fine of R$ 5,000, should the journalist disregard the decision. The civil suit brought by the councilman refers to publication of articles on the blog and anonymous comments found personally offensive. The journalist had alleged that she was not heard before the first decision and that, in his decision, Judge Miguel dos Reis Júnior emphasized a publication on her blog that did not refer to the councilman.
March 14, 2012: Journalist Maksuês Leite, of TV Cuiabá, affiliated with the network Rede TV!, was prohibited in an order granted by Judge Vandymara Galvão Ramos Paiva Zanolo, of the 21st Court of Cuiabá (state of Mato Grosso) from criticizing the administration of Governor Silval Barbosa (PSDB). The governor sued the journalist for moral damages, alleging that he had been offended by Leite during a live program. Barbosa asked for compensation of more than R$ 37,000. The order also stipulates that the presenter must pay R$ 5,000 per day that he disregards the decision.
February 22, 2012: Officials of Atlético, a soccer team, barred the entrance of reporter Osmar Antonio of Rádio Banda B, to cover the Paraná Championships. The credentialing of the reporter was refused without justification. In a note on its website, the leaders of Banda B report that they had sent the case to their legal department. The Association of Sports Reporters of Paraná (Acep-PR), also sent a notice to Atlético informing them that the decision is illegal. During an interview, the marketing director of Atlético, Mauro Holzmann, said that the journalist’s request was denied because he had carried out an “open campaign” for the group that lost the election to the presidency of the club at the end of last year.
November 23, 2011: A departmental journalist of the newspaper Diário do Pará, Jorge Luis Rodrigues, was prevented from entering the training session of the team Paysandu in Belem (state of Pará). The restriction was extended to all journalists that work for the RBGA Group (The Brazil Amazon Communications network).
November 3, 2011: The website Congresso in Foco [Congress in Focus] was indicted and may be sentenced to pay compensation of almost R$ 1,000,000, after a series of reports that revealed the super salaries of public servants. Forty-three workers for the Senate brought suit for moral damages against the outlet, which disseminated the names of the 464 employess of the Federal Court of Accounts. Eventual granting of the sentence could lead to closing of the site.
Appeals judge Newton de Lucca, president of the Federal Regional Court for the 3rd Region (TRF3) defends the creation of a “habeas media” that, according to his definition, would be a mechanism used to “impose limints on the power of a certain press.” “The habeas media would be a tool for individual, collective, or diffuse protection, of both people and legal entities who suffer threats or injury to their legal patrimony made unavailable through the workings of the media,” he proposes.
De Lucca foresees that “habeus would serve not just in favor of judges that are being unfairly attacked, but the entire Brazilian population, which is at the mercy of some professional bandits, secretly lodged in the twists and turns of certain media powers in Brazil and organized by hegemonic rhetoric, of an openly Nazi-Fascist nature.” He states that he was “unjustly attacked in the not-too-distant past” and refers to a “rogue journalism that prevents the creation of a free and legitimate public opinion.”