The Cycle of Silence: Impunity in Murders of Communicators in Brazil

The Cycle of Silence: Impunity in Murders of Communicators in Brazil - Protection

This report is in response to the urgent need for systemic change in the way the State responds to serious violations1 of the right to freedom of expression of communicators, (such as journalists, bloggers and media workers in a variety of organizations and campaign groups).

ARTICLE 19 has analysed the progress made in the investigations of 12 murders of communicators in Brazil in 2012 – 2014, as reported in ARTICLE 19’s “Violations Against Freedom of Expression” series. During the period, ARTICLE 19 analysed 86 cases of serious violations1 against communicators. Among the 86 cases reported by ARTICLE, 14 referred to murders, of which 12 continue to be considered as related to the exercise of freedom of expression by these professionals.

A major cause of the recurrence and intensification of these violations is impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes against freedom of expression. We know that with a more precise understanding of the different aspects that create an environment of endemic impunity, it will be possible to identify actions that can be taken to tackle the problem more effectively.

For reasons of methodology, this report focuses solely on murder casesfor being the most extreme and emblematic of human rights abuses within a very broad picture of violence.

For the study, we interviewed witnesses, communicators and authorities about the investigations, the criminal proceedings and security in those areas where the crimes took place. We set out to check how and when the police inquiries have advanced, what difficulties were found during the criminal prosecution, and what initiatives actually worked or failed in relation to increasing security for communicators.

The most important objective of this study is to explore the issue as widely as possible, creating data and analysis on the problem, so that government initiatives and public policies can be strengthened.

Notably, Brazil was part of a small group of states that in September 2016 led the adoption of a progressive resolution on the safety of journalists at the UN Human Rights Council. This report finds that the Brazilian government is failing to deliver the freedom of expression commitments it has made on the international stage.

We are seeking an end to violations against freedom of expression of communicators and an end to impunity for these crimes. We join with other human rights defenders in calling on the authorities to prevent and protect against these attacks, and for the justice system to effectively investigate, prosecute and provide redress into these cases. Victims’ families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones, and this information is crucial to all of us.

Read our report in full.


1 “Serious violations” is the term adopted by ARTICLE 19 Brazil in its annual monitoring reports to refer to murders, attempted murders, death threats and kidnapping cases.