O Estado de São Paulo approaching 200th day of ban restricting press freedom

first_img Reports BrazilAmericas Help by sharing this information Organisation Alarm after two journalists murdered in Brazil April 27, 2021 Find out more BrazilAmericas The São Paulo-based daily O Estado de São Paulo and its website Estadão are approaching the 200th day of a court order banning them from publishing any information about legal matters involving businessman Fernando Sarney, the son of former President José Sarney, who is now senate speaker. Their first six months of censorship under the 31 July order, which has set a dangerous press precedent for press freedom, was completed on 1 February. The federal supreme court took only three months to uphold the ban although it was the same supreme court which, on 30 April overturned a draconian 1967 press law inherited from the 1964-85 military dictatorship. Its contradictory decision has been an enormous disappointment for the news media. It was as if a new censorship mechanism had to be introduced as soon as the hangover from the repressive past had been eliminated. O Estado de São Paulo is the direct victim of this U-turn, but all the Brazilian media are likely to feel its effect.What is there to stop other plaintiffs from obtaining bans on media coverage of their activities even if the information is of public interest? The threat will continue as long as the censorship imposed on O Estado de São Paulo has not been lifted and repudiated. Both the form and substance of the order can be challenged:- The censorship was imposed on O Estado de São Paulo for a different reason from the one originally cited by Sarney. The ban concerns a questionable real estate operation in which he is involved but he launched his action against the newspaper after it published details of phone tapping by the federal police concerning an unrelated matter.- A week after the supreme court’s 10 December decision to uphold the ban, Sarney withdrew his action against O Estado de São Paulo citing a desire not to endanger press freedom. In the absence of a plaintiff, there were no longer any grounds for censorship. Nonetheless, what the supreme court called the need to “protect dignity and honour” has taken precedence over the Brazilian public’s right to be informed.- Finally, how is it possible to justify the fact that one news organisation, and one alone, is forbidden to report facts which other news organisations are able to report and which are known to the public? The supreme court is supposed to interpret the law but it is hard not to suspect a politically-motivated decision. May 13, 2021 Find out more RSF_en Receive email alertscenter_img to go further 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies Follow the news on Brazil April 15, 2021 Find out more News News News RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America February 4, 2010 – Updated on January 20, 2016 O Estado de São Paulo approaching 200th day of ban restricting press freedomlast_img read more