Brazil: Violations of freedom of expression against communicators in 2017

Protection 4 min read
ARTICLE 19

This annual report summary documents violations against communicators in Brazil in 2017. The full report is available in Portuguese. 

Each year, data on crimes against communicators in Brazil show attacks on the most vulnerable victims: journalists working for small media outlets, radio broadcasters and bloggers. The more violent regions for these crimes continue to be the Northeast and Southeast, (especially the states of Ceará, Maranhão and Minas Gerais); and the motivations behind the crimes: accusations against powerful individuals of wrongdoing at local level. Suspected perpetrators of these crimes are agents of the State, especially politicians and police officers. None of these findings are new and, unfortunately, we can predict that these trends will be found in our monitoring report next year.

For many years, there have been a significant number of organizations, representative entities and unions drawing attention to the high rates of violence against communicators in our country and producing systematized information on the occurrence of these cases.

Civil society’s constant calls for this violence against communicators in Brazil to be confronted is being echoed by media outlets that are increasingly drawing attention to cases of journalists being killed throughout the country.

Such a complex problem obviously has no simple solution and the process of confronting it is lengthy and requires a set of measures that, together and over a long period of time, can significantly reduce the extent of violence against communicators. However, we continue to live in a context in which not even the most basic immediate measures are implemented. And the responsibility for this falls to the authorities of the State who, even when recognize the problem, refuse to face up to it.

Every year, more communicators are killed, suffer attacks on their lives or are threatened. Every year, the cases of communicators who have been killed or threatened are being forgotten by authorities that are responsible for investigating them and uncovering answers. Every year, as a result of these crimes and the lack of response to them, the space for the flow of information on issues of public interest is becoming more restricted and more hostile. Every year, more communicators are forced into censoring themselves for fear of being the victims of new crimes. This scenario of hostility and attacks on communicators performs a very clear role: to prevent the exercising of freedom of expression and the right to information. This becomes more severe in a communication environment such as Brazil, noted for its enormous “news desert”, in which more than one third of the population lives in towns without a local printed or online newspaper.

This report provides data and analysis to help shed light on the complexity of the problem and its most vulnerable points. Understanding the problem, however, does not solve it. To resolve it, the different actors with the power and responsibility to do so need to have this information to confront the reality of crimes against free expression which afflict Brazilian society.

Read the full summary in English.

Read the full report in Portuguese.