Judge in Brazil blocks media from mentioning mayor-elect in alleged vote-buying scandal

A judge in Brazil ruled that the media cannot mention the name of the mayor-elect of the city of Campo Mourão, outside Curitiba, Paraná, and a bus company based in the city in reference to an alleged vote-buying scheme during the election, reported the website Terra.

At the end of last week, the newspapers Gazeta do Povo and Tribuna do Interior, TV Carajás, Rádio T, Rádio Colméia, Rádio Humaitá, and the websites Tásabendo.com and Coluna do Ely received notifications prohibiting them from mentioning Regina Dubay, current vice-mayor and mayor-elect of Campo Mourão. Failure to comply could result in fines over $14,000 or R$ 30,000.

The Electoral Court is investigating Dubay for allegedly buying votes during the mayoral race by handing out bus tickets paid for by the municipal government, according to Terra.

The Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Paraná released a statement on Tuesday, Nov. 27, accusing the judge of "censoring the work of journalists and the organizations that have an obligation, not only the right, to inform the population about the investigations in the public interest, which is explicit in this case."

Judicial censorship has been named the biggest challenge facing freedom of expression in Brazil by international organizations like the Inter American Press Association and Freedom House. In response to this, the National Judicial Council, the body tasked with monitoring the administrative and financial operations of the judiciary, announced the creation of a special commission to track judicial decisions that affect press freedom.

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.