The International Press Institute (IPI) today urged Brazil to implement safety measures for journalists amid reports that at least 36 were attacked between June 12 and July 13 while covering protests against the World Cup.
The Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists (ABRAJI) told IPI that almost 90 percent of the attacks – which included 17 more cases of aggression against or detention of journalists after IPI first reported on the issue on June 23 – were led by local police forces.
Last week, four members of the Rio de Janeiro Police Department were suspended after a video showing a group of police officers attacking journalists covering an anti-World Cup protest was made public. Local sources have confirmed the veracity of the video to IPI.
Last month, IPI reported that Brazil’s presidential Human Rights Secretariat in March officially approved a list of recommendations drafted by a coalition of Brazilian press freedom groups that was aimed at improving the safety of journalists covering protests.
Three different offices had been expected to implement the list of recommendations, which included the development of protocols on security forces’ actions during demonstrations: the Human Rights Secretariat, the Ministry of Justice and the National Congress. However, ABRAJI confirmed that, as of last week, none of the recommendations have been implemented in the country.
According to the group, Ideli Salvatti, head of Brazil’s Human Rights Secretariat, and Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo were set to meet on June 24 to sign an ordinance to create an “observatory on violence against communications workers”. However, the meeting was postponed until July 22.
IPI Press Freedom Manager Barbara Trionfi criticised the delay.
“IPI is extremely disappointed by the government’s failure to implement the recommendations of local press freedom groups, which provide government agencies with guidance on a number of essential security measures that could potentially avoid unnecessary attacks on and detentions of journalists,” she said. “The results of tomorrow’s scheduled meeting between the Human Rights Secretariat and the Justice Ministry will show the degree to which the government is willing to finally address the issue of safety of journalists in the country.
“We urge government leaders not to delay this meeting any further and to implement the safety measures previously approved by the country’s Human Rights Secretariat – actions that would send a strong message across the region.”
Last month, ABRAJI published a manual that included safety precautions for journalists covering unrest. Although the manual focused on Brazil, ABRAJI’s executive manager, Marina Iemini, told IPI that the group’s recommendations also applied to the work of journalists across the region. The manual is available in English, Portuguese and Spanish.