Por Isabela Fraga
The Brazilian media company UH News was sentenced to pay over $7,500 in moral damages, according to the court's website.
According to the plaintiff, an advisor of a state deputy in Mato Grosso do Sul, UH News' website had published reports since 2011 slandering her character by suggested she only had her job because she was sexually involved with the deputy, according to the website MS Notícias.
UH News defended itself by claiming freedom of expression and said that the articles in question did not mention the advisor by name. Nevertheless, Judge Alexandre Corrêa Leite ruled that the articles were "defamatory" and "maliciously" detailed her relationship with the deputy, according to the court.
While freedom of expression remains a fundamental right guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution, the courts have proven an effective tool for to cripple the media, especially smaller organizations, and silence critical journalists and bloggers in Brazil. Last week, the Knight Center launched a timeline chronicling court-driven censorship that shows there have been 16 cases such since the start of 2012.
Click here to see the development of this troubling legal strategy 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.