Bill criminalizing journalists who publish leaks moves forward in Brazil

A bill that would criminalize leaking or publishing information on confidential criminal investigations and trials passed committee in Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies May 31, O Globo reports.

Dubbed the “Gag Law” by critics, the legislation includes fines and two- to four-year prison terms for journalists who violate the law, G1 explains. The law will next be voted on by the full Chamber.

According to Agência Câmara, committee chair Maurício Quintella Lessa is looking to discourage the “dangerous relationship” between the media and the authorities. “Often, there is irreparable harm to honor and privacy, and, when a person under investigation is absolved, strangely, this fact does not arouse the same media interest,” he said.

However, the president of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), Ophir Cavalcante, said the bill was unconstitutional censorship. “The Supreme Federal Court, in past rulings, was very clear in that the right to information, expression, and thought override the right to privacy,” he said, quoted by iG.

The Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (Abraji) called the bill an attempt to “restrict freedom of expression…and investigative journalism.”

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.