Q&A: Why can’t Ricardo Fraga post on Facebook?

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ARTICLE 19

05 Mar 2015

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Ricardo Fraga Oliveira is a civil servant and activist who in 2011 began protesting against the construction of a large development in a middle class area of Sao Paulo, where he lives. He claims that the real estate development violates environmental regulations. In 2013, a local court prohibited Fraga from participating in the protests or in any other activities near the construction site and from posting anything about this subject on the campaign’s Facebook page.

Fraga had started a series of peaceful protests near the development to draw attention to the case- he even staged a street-music protest in 2012 (watch the YouTube video). He also launched a Facebook page called “O Outro Lado do Muro – Intervenção Coletiva” (The Other Side of the Wall – A Collective Intervention) named after the movement that seeks to raise awareness about “the city and the use of urban spaces”. 

ARTICLE 19 South America has actively supported Fraga’s case and it is currently promoting the social media action #FragaQuerPostar (#FragaWantsToPost)

What is #FragaQuerPostar (#FragaWantsToPost)?


It is campaign that ARTICLE 19 is carrying out to mark two years after the court upheld the ban against the protests. We’re also staging a protest next to the construction site to draw attention to Fraga’s case.

What happened to Ricardo Fraga?

Fraga led a movement against the construction of three residential towers in his neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Fraga argues that the construction of these buildings was harmful to the environment, and started to organise a series of peaceful protests on the construction site.

The company responsible for the work, Mofarrej Empreendimentos, objected, and filed a lawsuit to forbid Fraga and his movement to continue the on-site protests.

On 6 March 2013, Fraga was forbidden by a Brazilian court to carry out protests within 1 km of the construction site, and was also banned from mentioning the name of the company and the buildings on the internet. 

How does this violate Fraga’s freedom of expression? 

Fraga’s actions involved the exercise of his rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The right to freedom of expression protects not only the substance of an expression (the ideas and information) but also its form.

Under international standards, any restrictions to these rights must meet the requirements of the three-part test. That is, they must be provided by law, have a legitimate aim and be both necessary and in proportion to that aim.

We believe that Fraga was denied his rights and that the court’s decision is blatantly disproportionate. 

Why is this case still relevant in Brazil? 

This is one of the first court cases concerning online protest in Brazil and we are concerned that this could set a worrying precedent for freedom of expression on social media. 

Why is it important that Brazilians are granted the freedom to protest offline but also online? 

Not only one Brazilians, everyone must have the freedom to protest online or offline. The internet and especially social media, have been increasingly used as a tool for mobilisation, organisation and promotion of protests as we witnessed last year ahead of the World Cup. People have the right to voice their discontent without fear of being silenced. 

 

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