Brazil: Protect freedom of expression and free movement ahead of final vote

Brazil: Protect freedom of expression and free movement ahead of final vote - Civic Space

Rally in support of free elections, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, September 2022. Photo: Cesar Lima/ Shutterstock

Ahead of the final round of Brazil’s presidential election, ARTICLE 19’s Brazil and South America office, ARTIGO 19, issued an alert to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and urged the government to outline the measures it is taking to ensure the right to vote is protected and upheld. The first round of the election was marred by a low voter turnout, with more than 20% of the population failing to vote. This was the second highest abstention in the history of Brazil’s democracy.

“Voting in elections is the most important way of exercising our democratic rights, but we are currently seeing a range of attempts by the federal government to prevent people from participating,” said Denise Dora, ARTIGO 19’s executive director. “Therefore, it is essential that institutions such as the Inter-American Commission take a stand at this moment, intensifying support for this freedom and guaranteeing the democratic rule of law in Brazil.” 

ARTICLE 19 also highlights the increase in political violence in Brazil throughout the election period. It cited the recent behaviour of Roberto Jefferson, a former federal deputy and a supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro and his bid for re-election. Jefferson posted a video of him swearing and directing misogynistic insults at Supreme Court Justice Carmen Lucia, prompting the Superior Electoral Court to issue an arrest warrant. When federal police officers attempted to carry out the arrest, Jefferson shot at them, and following the attack and his subsequent arrest, grenades were found at Jefferson’s residence.

Cameraman Roberto de Paula from InterTV Serramar was assaulted by Bolsonaro supporters while covering the events and was taken to the hospital following the attack. 

Following the attacks on 23 October, Jefferson has been charged with attempted murder and remains behind bars.

Political violence and disinformation 

Following the most recent violence, ARTICLE 19 again highlighted the threats to democracy in Brazil, with particular emphasis on the continued violence, sustained disinformation campaigns, and the violation of the rights to freedom of expression and social and political participation. The organisation’s  #ShareInformation #ShareDemocracy campaign sought to educate and inform the public, outlining how tech can be used to ensure transparency and verify results, while at the same time pointing out how it has been used to misinform voters and spy on opposition figures and groups. 

ARTICLE 19 Brazil and South Africa has repeatedly made clear its commitment to support those affected by the many episodes of political and electoral violence in recent months. The organisation rejects any and all violent demonstrations or acts that aim to discredit the electoral process and electronic voting machines; coerce people to vote for a certain candidate or intimidate them into not voting or blocking them from doing so; or that prevent journalists from covering the election or political opinion. It condemns the pervading atmosphere of fear and intimidation throughout the election period and calls for public officials, the public and all groups and organisations to support freedom of expression, freedom of association, and the right for all Brazilians to be able to exercise their democratic right to vote.


Read more about the election on ARTIGO 19’s website (in Portuguese)

Brazil is ranked 89 out of 161 countries in the 2022 Global Expression Report – ARTICLE 19’s  annual review of the state of freedom of expression and the right to information around the world.