This Friday 23 October, ARTICLE 19 South America will be in Washington to participate in a hearing of the 156th period of sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). We will be presenting a complaint against the Brazilian State for violating the American Convention on Human Rights by failing to respect the right to freedom of expression, together with the Brazilian Investigative Journalism Association (Abraji) and the Interstate Federation of Employees in Broadcasting Companies and TV (Fitert).
The complaint regards the current media environment in Brazil, in which there are systematic violations against communicators.
“The journalistic exercise is fundamental to a democratic society,” states Paula Martins, Director of ARTICLE 19 South America, who will participate in the hearing.
A dossier will be presented, containing an overview of the violations perpetrated in the last three years, contextualising the in-country situation and detailing the recurrence of cases. The document contains data related to the profile of the victims, and those who may be responsible for the violations. In addition, the dossier analyzes the absence of public policy regarding the protection of communicators, and the lack of resolution of this issue, which supports impunity.
The testimony of Valerio Luiz Filho will also be delivered, regarding the murder of his father, broadcaster and sports journalist Valerio Luiz, who was killed due to his coverage of corruption within Atletico Goianiense, a Brazilian football club.
“Threats to the life and physical integrity of journalists is an attempt to silence voices that provide the circulation of information, data and ideas, and is further intended to distance the public from issues which are of interest to all. By failing to develop effective policies to guarantee the freedom of expression of journalists, the Brazilian state violates its international obligations,” Martins adds.
In the dossier, organisations make several recommendations to the Brazilian State. Among these is the creation of a watchdog on violence against communicators, and the need for protective measures for professionals in vulnerable situations.
Recommendations to the Brazilian state
1) To expand the National Protection System, creating pathways to address communicators who are threatened, taking into account the specific activity of these professionals, and providing, in addition to protective measures for communicators themselves, the adoption of measures aimed at protecting the work environment of the communicators;
2) To include civil society organizations related to the exercise of freedom of expression, and journalists, in the National Coordination of the Protection Program in order to ascertain and meet the specific demands of communicators;
3) To promote the Protection Program to communicators;
4) To establish a cooperation policy with the UN system (UNESCO, UNIC-Rio), in order to create a Watchdog for Violence against Communicators. This body should not only register occurrences, but have a case resolution tracking system by which it would be possible for the user to know the formal status of the case as well as the relevant institutional and non-governmental initiatives. The body would also have a database, including production of a national report on “Safety Indicators of Communicators” in order to systematically develop studies aimed at identifying the main causes and outbreaks of violence against communicators in Brazil;
5) To create a detailed study of safety equipment and conditions which are capable of mitigating risks to the physical integrity of communication professionals, particularly in the coverage of conflict situations;
6) To establish formal guidelines against the seizure by security forces of the working equipment of the media communicators. Also, to develop standardized protocol for the actions of public security forces in the context of demonstrations, based on the principles set out in the Resolution Nº 06 from 2013, June 18th of the Council for the Defense of the Human Person on the application of principles of non-violence in the context of demonstrations and public events, as well as the contexts of maintenance orders and repossession of land and buildings;
7) In partnership with media companies and independent or self-employed professionals, to offer safety training to communication professionals on both everyday working situations, and coverage of specific events such as social protests.