Brazil: Attacks against communicators on the rise

Brazil: Attacks against communicators on the rise - Protection

Brazil is facing a freedom of expression crisis. ARTICLE 19 has documented an increase of 67% in attacks against communicators in 2015. In our latest report released to mark World Press Freedom Day, we look at the statistics and what they reveal about the root causes of freedom of expression violations. We also make some concrete recommendations of what the Brazilian government and international community could do to roll-back this worrying trend.

This is the fourth annual report on violations of freedom of expression in Brazil published by ARTICLE 19. By applying a methodology of case monitoring year after year, it is possible to reveal certain trends and to paint a worrying picture for the country’s freedom of expression.

Various studies carried out by international organisations for the protection of freedom of expression place Brazil among the ten most dangerous countries for the exercise of communication.  In this scenario, 2015 particularly stands out due to the increase in the number of violations in comparison to the previous year: a 67% increase in serious violations against communicators from 2014. 121 communicators were murdered, attempted murdered, received death threats, or were kidnapped, between 2012 and 2015.

Although the number of serious violations increased overall on the previous year, particular attention must be paid to the number of homicides, which doubled in 2015, with six communicators murdered for their communication’s activities. Therefore, 2015 is now considered one of the most violent years for the exercise of communication in Brazil.

In 2015, 57 cases were registered regarding serious violations against communicators potentially related to the exercise of communication. After a detailed process of research into each case, a link could be established between the violation and the exercise of freedom of expression in 35 cases.

With regard to the victims’ profiles, eleven were journalists or reporters, six were radio broadcasters, thirteen were bloggers, two were photographers, two were owners of communication platforms, and one was a cartoonist. There was a striking increase in the number of cases that victimised radio broadcasters, which doubled from 2014. Attacks against bloggers increased three-fold on the previous year, accounting for 37% of the total cases in 2015.

The significant increase in the number of bloggers is reflected in the break-down of communication platforms used by the victims to perform their activities. While in the previous years, commercial communication platforms accounted for more than 60% of cases, in 2015 this number dropped to 49%, while alternative mediums reached 43% and community mediums reached 8% of total cases.

ARTICLE 19 includes a number of recommendations for the Brazilian State and the international community to adopt in order to better protect communicators. We urge the Brazilian authorities to take the urgent and necessary steps to reverse this disturbing trend of an escalation of violence against communicators.

Read the report – in English and in Portuguese.