At least eight journalists were attacked on 7 April by demonstrators who had gathered outside the headquarters of the ABC metalworkers’ union in the state of São Paulo in a show of support for Lula shortly before he surrendered to the authorities.
Reporters with three radio stations, CBN, Bandnews FM and Jovem Pan, and three TV channels, Bandnews, Rede TV and Globo, were subjected to verbal and physical violence while covering Lula’s last minutes of freedom. Some crews had to leave the area for security reasons.
Similar incidents were reported in different cities on 5 April. In São Paulo and Brasilia, the vehicles of reporters for Bandnews FM and the Correio Braziliense newspaper were attacked and their windows were smashed. In João Pessoa, the capital of the northeastern state of Paraíba, demonstrators attacked the headquarters of Cabo Branco TV, Globo TV’s local associate.
“The Brazilian authorities must ensure the safety of the media, whose work at this time of great political tension is fundamental,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau.
"Brazilian journalists are being unfairly targeted and are the leading victims of the frustration of demonstrators, who link them directly the media outlets they work for. This is a serious violation of freedom of the press and information, which the country badly needs amid the current political turmoil."
Attacks on media outlets and investigative reporters are common in Brazil. On 26 March, someone opened fire on the headquarters of the Jornal dos Bairros Litoral, a weekly newspaper in the southern state of Paraná.
Lula’s imprisonment has exacerbated the already considerable polarization in Brazil since President Dilma Rousseff ‘s impeachment and removal in 2016. The presidential election due to be held in October could fuel the climate of mistrust and hostility towards the media.
Brazil is ranked 103rd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.