On International Day to End Impunity (2 November), ARTICLE 19 Brazil is calling on the Ministry of Justice to end the cycle of impunity for attacks on those who exercise their right to free speech.
We are highlighting the case of Brazilian photographer Alexandro da Silveira (known as Alex Silva) who lost the sight of an eye after being shot with a rubber bullet by troops from the Military Police while covering a demonstration in São Paulo in 2000. The original decision to award him compensation was revoked when the Court of Justice of the State of São Paulo, found that the injury was not proved to be due to police action and that Silveira should be responsible for any damage incurred for choosing to continue to cover the demonstration as a journalist during a police crackdown.
Paula Martins, Regional Director of ARTICLE 19 Brazil, said:
“The impact of impunity has a far reaching chilling effect on freedom of expression across the world. Attacks against all types of journalists, human rights defenders and media workers are rarely investigated, let alone punished, and this results in self-censorship, stopping journalists criticising governments, or investigating issues such as corruption and human rights violations.
“As well as dealing with murder, many of the cases we come across detail constant levels of harassment, threats, office break-ins and arbitrary arrests, which also have a chilling effect.
“The problem isn’t just the pitiful rate of successful convictions for such crimes, but also a lack of thorough and effective investigations. We are calling for the ratification of the Observatory of Crimes Against Journalists. The Observatory is a demand from Civil Society Organizations to the Government and aims to collate information and complaints to protect media workers and guarantee the accountability of perpetrators. This mechanism would go some way to making sure cases like Alex Silveira’s aren’t repeated.
“We are also calling on the Government of Brazil to adopt all necessary political and legal measures to protect journalists and human rights defenders and defend the right to freedom of expression, in accordance with their international obligations.”
“We are also calling for the immediate expansion and strengthening of the human rights protection mechanism created by the Brazilian human rights secretary, so that it is effective in receiving complaints and requests for assistance from media workers. The mechanism should be reformed to encompass journalists, bloggers, radio broadcasters, and should carry out promotional measures in order to be better known and accessible by such groups.”
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