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Brazil


Glenn Greenwald would like to go home to the United States, at least for a visit. But the Guardian journalist and blogger is afraid to do so. He still has material and unpublished stories from his contacts with fugitive whistleblower Edward Snowden that he believes U.S. authorities would love to get their hands on.  The nine-hour detention and interrogation of Greenwald's Brazilian partner David Miranda by British security services at London's Heathrow airport in August has only compounded his fears.

Carlos Lauría's testimony starts at 1:10 in the video.

Carlos Lauría, CPJ's Americas senior program coordinator, provided testimony before the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of US House of Representatives on Tuesday. Lauría emphasized that violence and government harassment are the main emerging trends that illustrate the major challenges facing the press in the Western hemisphere.

A transcript of the full testimony can be found here.

I have always been convinced that journalism is an instrument that transforms people and realities. I believe in this profession as a means of change, even if this implies some risk. I've been beaten almost to death and at another time have had to move to another city because I went to the limit of my possibilities in search of the truth in which I believe. But nothing is sadder than the psychological terror imposed by an omniscient and omnipresent enemy. An invisible enemy that hides in anonymity and is able to take away the ability to live with one's family and freedom of movement.

Rodrigo Neto was killed after investigating possible police involvement in a series of local murders. (Diário Popular)

One month after their colleague Rodrigo Neto was gunned down on the street after eating at a popular outdoor barbecue restaurant, the journalists of Vale do Aço, Brazil, were indignant. Denouncing a sluggish investigation and the possibility of police involvement in the murder, they strapped black bands to their wrists in a sign of solidarity, put on T-shirts bearing Neto's name, and took to the streets to demand justice. Six days later, Walgney Assis Carvalho, a photographer who claimed to have knowledge of the crime, was shot twice in the back by a masked assassin as he sat at a fish restaurant. The journalists of Vale do Aço are still indignant, but now they are terrified.

Carlos Lauría, left, and Mauri König meet Brazil's chief justice, Joaquim Barbosa, on Wednesday as part of a CPJ mission to Brazil. (Supreme Federal Tribunal)

"Leave me in peace. Wallow in your garbage," Brazilian Chief Justice Joaquim Barbosa said in a rage when a reporter with one of the leading national newspapers, O Estado de Sao Paulo, tried to ask him a question Tuesday at a meeting of the National Council of Justice in Brasilia, the capital. Stunned by Barbosa's reaction, the journalist demanded an explanation. "You are a clown," was the response he received from the president of Brazil's highest court.

(AFP/Pedro Pardo)

Almost half of the 67 journalists killed worldwide in 2012 were targeted and murdered for their work, research by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. The vast majority covered politics. Many also reported on war, human rights, and crime. In almost half of these cases, political groups are the suspected source of fire. There has been no justice in a single one of these deaths.

Journalists take cover in a shootout between police and drug traffickers in Brazil. (AP/Silvia Izquierdo)

There are many complex reasons why Brazil has become a dangerous place to practice journalism. I will cite two possible explanations for the increase in deaths of journalists in the country, where seven journalists have been confirmed killed for the work over the past two years. First, the press is producing more investigative reports on government and police corruption, the misdeeds of politicians, organized crime, and human rights violations. Journalists are killed in reprisal for this type of reporting. The second explanation has to do with impunity. The lack of thorough investigations for these crimes has created a feeling amongst the perpetrators that they will not be identified or punished.

The tortured and decapitated body of 39-year-old María Elizabeth Macías Castro was found on a Saturday evening in September 2011. It had been dumped by the side of a road in Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican border town ravaged by the war on drugs. Macías, a freelance journalist, wrote about organized crime on social media under the pseudonym "The Girl from Laredo." Her murder, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was the first in which a journalist was killed in direct relation for reporting published on social media. It remains unsolved.

Mauri König (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.

CPJ has received an encouraging letter from Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Brazil's permanent representative to the United Nations, affirming the country's support for the UNESCO-led U.N. Plan of Action for Security of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

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