One journalist was killed and another survived a murder attempt during 2005. The media, especially outside big cities, is still ruthlessly targeted when it does investigative reporting. Though rarely applied, the harsh 1967 press law continues to give rise to unjustified prosecutions.
Reporting on sensitive topics is still risky in several Brazilian states. José Cândido Amorim Pinto, who presented an investigative programme on Rádio Comunitária Alternativa and was also a town councillor, was shot dead on 1 July in Carpina (in the northeastern state of Pernambuco) after escaping an earlier attempt to kill him on 21 May. He had exposed corruption and nepotism by the mayor of Carpina and a member of parliament.
Maurício Melato Barth, owner and editor of the paper Infobairros in Itapema (in the southern state of Santa Catarina), was seriously wounded on 23 March when two masked men waiting outside his home fired at him at close range. He too had angered local politicians by his reporting. A driver for two journalists on the regional daily Diário do Nordeste, José Maria Ramos da Silva, was shot dead on 26 October in the northwestern city of Fortaleza.
Journalists are often targeted by officials and the owner/columnist of the weekly Primeira Pagina (in the central state of Tocantins), Sandra Miranda de Oliveira Silva, was threatened by the state governor, whose actions she had criticised.
Although Brazil signed the 1994 Chapultepec Declaration on freedom of expression, the 1967 press law passed under the 1964-85 military dictatorship has never been repealed. It says “insults” and “libel” are crimes and punishes press offences with prison sentences, which can be increased if a public official has been targeted.
José de Arimatéia Azevedo, editor of the website Portal AZ in Teresina (in the northeastern state of Piauí), was arrested under this law and held two days for “insults” and “trying to influence a legal matter.” The law was also used in 18 lawsuits brought against editor Lúcio Flavio Pinto, of the fortnightly Jornal Pessoal in Belém (in the northern state of Pará), who had criticised local officials in connection with drug trafficking, deforestation and corruption.