I read “Violence and Judicial Censorship Mar Brazil’s Horizon,” a chapter about the rise of violence and wrongful lawsuits against journalists in Brazil.
Brazil has the largest population of the countries in South America and the fifth largest population in the world. But, it’s a country marred by poverty, human trafficking and deadly violence. These issues need to be made public in order to eventually be solved. But journalists are often too afraid to report on them. Since 1992, 27 journalists have been killed in Brazil for their work. Four journalists were killed in 2014.
Political and business leaders often sue journalists, claiming that they have ruined their reputations or exposed their private lives. The lawsuits are usually just a strategy to stop journalists from publishing anything bad about them in the future and to make them delete existing unfavorable stories. Initially, rulings are against the journalist and by the time the cases are appealed and sometimes overturned, the damage has been done.
Brazil ranks near the top of Google’s Transparency Report, which lists government requests for Google to remove information from the internet. The requests surged during the country’s 2012 elections, but Google refused to approve many of the requests, saying that the content was acceptable based on freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution.
Even so, some progress is being made. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has formed a group to address press freedom issues in Brazil. Members include civil society groups, government representatives, and members of communication and justice ministries. The group is hoping to eventually become a federal program for protecting journalists in danger.