Brazilian journalist Bianca Santana filed a complaint July 7 with the United Nations Human Rights Commission against President Jair Bolsonaro. In all, 19 nongovernmental organizations subscribed to the complaint.
“Since the beginning of the administration, journalists have been attacked by the president and his ministers for at least 54 times, a number without precedent in the country’s recent history,” said Santana during a virtual audience with the United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Dubravka Simonovic.
Among the cases is the journalist’s own case, who has been accused of publishing fake news during an online transmission the president gave on May 28. She had written an article that showed connections between families and people close to the president with suspects in the murder of the Rio de Janeiro city council member Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Santos.
“Despite my trembling hands, as I listened to Bolsonaro say my name to his thousands of followers, at first, I wondered if I had not been mentioned by mistake (although it was serious that the president of the republic accuses a journalist of lying, even as a mistake). But it is possible to perceive the systematic pattern of attacks on journalists that could generate intimidation and take away the credibility of the question that I have repeated based on a lot of evidence,” Santana wrote in a column for UOL.
Another case that is on the list is that of reporter Patricia Melo Campos, of Folha de S.Paulo.
She became the target of the at that time candidate in 2018, when she published a report showing that businessmen linked to Bolsonaro had illegally funded a negative campaign via WhatsApp against Workers’ Party candidate, Fernando Haddad. In February of this year, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president's son, made misogynistic attacks against the journalist.
“This systematic exposure generates massive virtual attacks by his followers, with serious consequences for the lives of these communicators, creating an even more hostile environment for women to exercise their freedom of expression and for their presence in the digital, political and social environment. The Brazilian State has an obligation to ensure a safe environment for women journalists,” said Santana.
Only in 2020, 245 attacks against journalists
This year alone, Bolsonaro made 245 attacks against journalists and news outlets according to a survey by the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj). Of those, 32 are personal attacks on journalists.
The organization associates the president's attacks with real aggressions suffered by press professionals in the country. “Bolsonaro's attacks on the press encourage violence against journalists in their daily work. … In addition, during the semester, journalists who provide critical coverage of the government were attacked on social networks, and some even had their personal data leaked,” informed Fenaj on its website.