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Journalists attacked, detained amid Brazil protests

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At least 25 journalists have been attacked during clashes between demonstrators and police in Brazil. Here, police in Brasilia spray protesters with pepper gas during a demonstration. (AFP/Beto Barata)

New York, June 21, 2013--At least 25 journalists have reported being attacked or detained amid protests that have swept Brazil over the past two weeks, growing from discontent in São Paulo over public transportation fare hikes to wider nationwide demonstrations against government policies.

"Journalists covering the massive protests in Brazil are performing a key democratic function by informing Brazilian citizens about events of acute public interest," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "Both police and protesters must respect their work and allow them to continue without interference. Authorities should guarantee the safety of all journalists covering the protests and should thoroughly investigate any attacks."

At least 15 journalists reported being attacked on June 13 as military police cracked down on protesters in São Paulo, according to the local association of investigative reporters ABRAJI. Two reported being hit in the eye with rubber bullets fired by police. News accounts said that both Giuliana Vallone, a reporter for Folha de S. Paulo, and Sérgio Andrade da Silva, a photographer for Futura Press agency, were hospitalized for their eye injuries.

Pedro Vedova, a reporter for GloboNews, said he had been hit in the head by a rubber bullet fired by police while covering protests in the city of Rio de Janeiro on June 20, according to news reports. He sought treatment at a local hospital for a forehead wound, the reports said. A security officer on June 19 punched and kicked Vladimir Platonow, a reporter for Agência Brasil, at a bus terminal in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro state, where he was documenting protesters fleeing from police, according to news reports. Platonow was not hospitalized for any injuries. A spokesman for the bus terminal said the assailant was not affiliated with the company.

Military police also detained at least five journalists covering the protests. ABRAJI reported that Piero Locatelli, a reporter for Carta Capital magazine, and Fernando Borges, a photographer for Terra, were briefly detained on June 13, and Leandro Machado, a reporter for the national daily Folha de S.Paulo, and Leandro Morais, a photographer for the news website Universo Online, were briefly detained on June 11. News accounts reported that Pedro Ribeiro Nogueira, a reporter for the website Portal Aprendiz who had been detained on June 11, was released after being held two days.

Journalists, particularly those working for major TV networks including Globo, have also been targeted by protesters who have criticized their coverage of events. News accounts reported that on June 17, Caco Barcellos, a reporter for Globo, was surrounded by protesters in São Paulo who prevented him from covering the demonstration. On June 13, protesters threw rocks at Vandrey Pereira, also a reporter for Globo, forcing the journalist to leave the protest, news reports said.

News reports said that on June 20, protesters set fire to the vehicles of the TV networks SBT in Rio de Janeiro city and TV Bandeirantes in the city of Natal, and that on June 18, protesters threw vinegar in the face of Rita Lisauskas, reporter for TV Bandeirantes. The accounts did not report serious injuries. News reports also said that protesters set fire to a van belonging to the TV network Record on June 18 in São Paulo.

A spike in lethal violence over the past two years has made Brazil one of the most dangerous countries for journalists in the world, according to CPJ research. In 2013, Brazil was the 10th worst country in CPJ's Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and the killers go free. The country was also named to CPJ's Risk List, which identified 10 places where press freedom suffered in 2012.

  • For more data on Brazil, visit CPJ's Brazil page here.

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