Violence against journalists increases in Brazil, but report says there's progress against impunity

  • By Guest
  • January 21, 2016

By Giovana Sanchez

The number of cases of violence against journalists in Brazil increased in 2015, according to a recently released annual report from the National Federation of Journalists (Fenaj). According to the text, 137 incidents against media professionals were reported last year — eight more than in 2014.

"There is still a lot of impunity, but as a result of systematic complaints, we have made advances in recent years," said Maria José Braga, vice-president of Fenaj, in an interview with Knight Center. "For example, I can cite the cases of journalists Rodrigo Neto and Walgney Assis, killed in 2013, which were investigated by a national task force. Only one of 2015's killings, of the radio broadcaster Gleydson [Carvalho], has been unveiled and the perpetrators denounced by prosecutors, but they have not gone to trial."

According to the organization, the number of deaths of communicators and journalists (the entity divides the data into professional categories) also increased: in 2014 there were seven murders, and last year 11 professionals were killed in the country - two journalists, five radio broadcasters, two bloggers and two popular communicators (people who work in community media).

Physical attacks, mostly reported after street demonstrations, comprised the majority of violent incidents, according to the "Report on Violence Against Journalists and Press Freedom in Brazil," with 49 cases in 2015.

The country also had "28 cases of threats and/or intimidation, nine attacks, 13 occurrences of preventing professional practice, nine restrictions to freedom of expression through lawsuits, eight arrests and even a case of censorship," according to the report.

A majority of complaints of violence (41.6 percent) occurred in the southeast region of the country, with São Paulo being the most violent state.

In 2015, professionals targeted most frequently were television journalists, followed by newspapers reporters, according to the report.

Like in the previous two years, military police are the main perpetrator of attacks on journalists and communicators, followed by politicians and press officers. All 11 deaths of media professionals in Brazil occurred by hit men.

Maria José Braga reiterated Fenaj’s proposal to create a National Observatory of Violence Against Communicators, which would follow cases of violence.

"According to our proposal, the Centre would be set up under the federal government (Human Rights Secretary) and would have the participation of representative bodies of professional groups and society in general," Braga said.

In addition to the proposal for the Observatory, the Fenaj and Brazilian Press Association (ABI for its initials in Portuguese) launched the project "SOS Journalist," a space for journalists to report assaults and abuse, in late 2015.

Brazil is on the list of the deadliest countries for journalists, ranking third worldwide, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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.

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