UNESCO and associations protest against attacks on journalists and the media in Brazil covering corruption cases

  • By
  • March 16, 2016

By Giovana Sanchez

After a TV crew was taken hostage in Paraná, a station invaded in Goiania and eight reporters beaten in São Paulo, on March 10, UNESCO and representatives of Brazilian media corporations delivered a letter to the country’s Minister of Social Communication calling for action to protect journalists and to ensure the media can work safely during the coverage of corruption investigations in the country.

According to newspaper Folha de São Paulo, members of the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television (Abert), the National Association of Newspapers (ANJ), the Brazilian Association of Radio and Television and the National Association of Magazine Publishers were present at the meeting with minister Edinho Silva. With UNESCO, they expressed concern over the recent violent episodes against media workers in the country.

The National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj) issued a statement condemning "all forms of violence against media professionals" while criticizing "much of the Brazilian Press" that "has abdicated journalism to behave as opposition to the federal government." Fenaj urged "all of the Brazilian population to respect [journalists] and, at the same time, call[ed] on media companies the resume Journalism."

On March 10, Tarobá TV, an affiliate of Bandeirantes network in Cascavel, Paraná, said their video reporter David Ferreira and reporter Patricia Sonsin were taken hostage by people from the Landless Workers Movement (MST for its initials in Portuguese) while shooting images of the movement's camp for a report. As reported by Folha de São Paulo, "MST denied having taken the team hostage and said they have only asked reporters to leave the site."

On March, 8, MST also invaded TV Globo's affiliate in Goiânia, according to Folha de São Paulo. The group spray-painted walls and shouted phrases repudiating the station, as reported by Folha.

Also according to Folha, the TV outlet said the raid was an "attempt to intimidate the work of the press." Once the police arrived, the group left the TV headquarters without confrontations. According to Folha, Gilmar Mauro, the MST coordinator, said the act was organized by the women of the group, as an event related to International Women's Day.

ANJ condemned the invasion, calling it a "criminal act by extremist groups." Abert also issued a statement of condemnation of the acts, calling for rigorous investigation of the facts.

On March 4, at least eight journalists were attacked in São Paulo while covering the police’s questioning of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula, in the investigation of the so-called Operation Car Wash corruption case.

According to a statement from the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), "Juliano Dip, from BandeirantesTV, and the cameraman who accompanied him were pushed in front of the building where former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lives in São Bernardo do Campo, São Paulo. Their camera was broken and the staff went out escorted by the military police."

More attacks were recorded in the headquarters of Lula’s Workers Party (PT). Also according to Abraji, "the car in which Andrew Azeredo (TV Globo)'s team was riding was kicked, and Mayara Teixeira, from Globo Reporter, had a camera snatched from her hands that was then broken."

Another demonstration against TV Globo's coverage occurred in Rio de Janeiro, when dozens of people gathered outside the headquarters of the TV station to show support for the former president. There were no reports of clashes or injuries.

Since 2014, Operation Car Wash has investigated cases of corruption and money laundering involving politicians from various parties and companies in Brazil.

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.