Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August 2014, 14:37 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Brazil

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date 14 February 2013
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 2012 - Brazil, 14 February 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/512b79dac.html [accessed 20 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Key Developments

  • Lethal violence against journalists surges, impunity worsens.

  • Government fails to support press freedom in international venues.

Brazil's international profile remained on the rise, but its government consistently failed to show leadership on press freedom issues. Anti-press violence surged with four work-related fatalities; the country's ranking also worsened on CPJ's Impunity Index, which highlights countries where journalists are killed regularly and the authorities fail to solve the crimes. Along with India and Pakistan–two other countries that rank poorly on the Impunity Index–Brazil raised objections to a comprehensive UNESCO proposal to help nations combat impunity and protect journalists. In the face of heavy criticism, U.N. Ambassador Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti later expressed broad support for press freedom and elements of the UNESCO plan. But the government's commitment to free expression came into question in another important international matter. Brazil supported an Ecuadoran-led effort to weaken the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the human rights monitoring body of the Organization of American States, and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression. In December, investigative reporter and CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Mauri König fled Brazil after receiving death threats related to his coverage of police corruption. President Dilma Rousseff's government did usher in two measures promoting the public's right to know. Rousseff signed into law an access-to-information measure and created a commission to investigate human rights abuses committed during the country's 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

[Refworld note: The sections that follow represent a best effort to transcribe onto a single page information that appears in tabs on the CPJ's own pages, which also include a number of dynamically-generated graphics not readily reproducible here. Refworld researchers are therefore strongly recommended to check against the original report: Attacks on the Press in 2012.]


Killed in 2012: 4

Four journalists were killed in Brazil in direct retaliation for their reporting. A fifth journalist was killed under unclear circumstances, and CPJ continues to investigate.


Killed since 1992: 24

The 24 work-related murders of journalists over the past two decades make Brazil the third deadliest country in the Americas, behind only Colombia and Mexico, and 11th in the world, CPJ research shows.

20 Deadliest Countries 1992-2012

1. Iraq: 151
2. Philippines: 73
3. Algeria: 60
4. Russia: 54
5. Somalia: 48
6. Pakistan: 48
7. Colombia: 44
8. Syria: 30
9. India: 29
10. Mexico: 28
11. Brazil: 24
12. Afghanistan: 24
13. Turkey: 20
14. Bosnia: 19
15. Sri Lanka: 19
16. Tajikistan: 17
17. Rwanda: 17
18. Sierra Leone: 16
19. Bangladesh: 13
20. Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory: 12

A closer look at Brazilian murder cases:

52 percent: Suspected to have been committed by government officials

67 percent: Victims who covered government corruption

43 percent: Victims who were threatened beforehand


Impunity Index ranking: 11th

CPJ's Impunity Index found that Brazil is the world's 11th worst nation in combating deadly anti-press violence, with five unsolved murders over the past decade.

CPJ's 2012 Impunity Index

1. Iraq
2. Somalia
3. Philippines
4. Sri Lanka
5. Colombia
6. Nepal
7. Afghanistan
8. Mexico
9. Russia
10. Pakistan
11. Brazil
12. India


Reals in damages: 50,000

A São Paulo court ordered a former army colonel, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, to pay damages to the family of journalist Luiz Eduardo da Rocha Merlino, who was tortured and killed while jailed in 1971, during the country's military dictatorship. It is the first time an individual has been ordered to pay compensation for dictatorship-era crimes.

In search of justice

2 Years in which the newly formed truth commission will work on a report on human rights abuses during the dictatorship era

0 Possible prosecutions due to a 1979 law that provided blanket amnesty for crimes committed during the regime

Copyright notice: © Committee to Protect Journalists. All rights reserved. Articles may be reproduced only with permission from CPJ.

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