With just one month to go to the start of the Football World Cup in Brazil, Reporters Without Borders reminds the Brazilian authorities of the urgent need to create a mechanism for protecting journalists.
A working group set up by the justice ministry in 2012 to identify how to extend the existing human rights protection mechanism to journalists issued its recommendations in March, a month after Bandeirantes TV cameraman Santiago Ilídio Andrade died from injuries received during a demonstration in Rio on 6 February.
Reporters Without Borders wrote to justice minister José Eduardo Cardozo on 17 March calling for the drafting of legislation for the protection of journalists, in the hope that it would be quickly translated into concrete and effective measures.
Reporters Without Borders supports the conclusions of the working group – whose participants included the Brazilian Association for Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), various NGOs and government officials – which said journalists need protection that covers all circumstances. This need was also stressed in the annual report that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights released on 24 April.
“We hope that concrete measures will be quickly adopted on the basis of the working group’s recommendations,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“The many journalists that Brazil is preparing to receive for the Football World Cup will want to cover not only the sports events but also the country’s social issues. The authorities must take the necessary measures to ensure that the physical safety of all journalists and their freedom to work are guaranteed.”
A resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council on 28 March recognized the importance of media coverage of protests, in which journalists are often the victims of abuses.
On 8 April, ABRAJI reported that journalists have been the victims of 107 deliberate acts of violence or harassment since the start of a wave of protests in Brazil in May 2013. More cases continue to be reported all the time.
But journalists are not just the victims of violence at protests. Five were murdered in connection with their work in 2013. Cláudio Moleiro de Souza, José Roberto Ornelas de Lemos, Walgney Assis Carvalho, Rodrigo Neto de Faria and Mafaldo Bezzera Goes were all gunned down in the street, near their homes or workplaces, because they were investigating corruption or organized crime.
Two more journalists have been killed in connection with work this year. The latest victim was Pedro Palma. The newspaper he worked for had exposed corruption involving elected officials in the Rio region. He was killed on 14 January.
Reporters Without Borders reminds media personnel travelling to Brazil that it has a Handbook for Journalists, which it produced in partnership with UNESCO. It lists all the international instruments that protect media freedom. It also gives practical advice on avoiding the pitfalls that can be encountered in the field.
Brazil is ranked 111th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.