82 out of 173 in the latest worldwide index
Area: 8,514,000 sq. km
Head of state: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, since January 2003
Journalists are exposed to serious risks in some regions when they report on sensitive issues. The press, particularly local, faces judicial harassment from some authorities.
Brazilian journalists are exposed to serious risks in some regions, particularly when they report on sensitive issues such as trafficking, corruption or environmental questions. Attacks that can go as far as murder still plague the northern and north-eastern states, or further south, at the Paraguayan border, the hub of the drug trade. Insecurity also affects the press in the metropolitan regions like Rio de Janeiro, where three staff on the daily O Dia were abducted and tortured in a slum in 2008 by an armed group having links within the police.
Often concentrated within states, the press, particularly local, also has to face legal harassment from some authorities. Collusion between a mayor or governor and the judges have led to “preventive censorship” against media reporting embarrassing news, in violation of basic constitutional freedoms. The unfair distribution of official advertising is another means of taking reprisals against media seen as troublesome.
Debate has begun on the question of whether Brazil should have a new press law. On 30 April 2009, Brazil’s Supreme Federal Tribunal (STF), the country’s highest court, finally repealed the entire 1967 press law, the principles of which were contrary to the 1988 democratic constitution. Adopted under the 1964-85 military dictatorship, it provided for prison sentences for the offences of “insult”, “defamation” and “denigration”.
Finally, the need to establish and regulate mushrooming but currently illegal community radios is becoming more and more urgent.