Deleted material, violence, detentions: In Brazil, police and other security forces are increasingly responsable for violations of press freedom. An interview with Mariana Rielli, legal expert at the NGO Artigo 19 in Rio de Janeiro.
Policemen forced us to delete camera material. Is it a common incident that the Brazilian police deletes material of journalists, who are filming incidents in public, at protests or other situations? And do you regard favelas especially sensitive areas, where journalists are even more at risk to be suppressed?
Looking at ARTICLE 19’s ongoing monitoring of police violence against protesters and against the press in general it is possible to assert that this has become a relatively common occurence in Brazil. Last year, for example, we observed many instances where communicators were in some way prevented from filming police activity. The same can also be applied to lawyers and demonstrators, for example, since such restraints are usually employed when people try to record episodes of violence or disregard to public freedoms and human rights by the police.
Regarding protests, for example, there have been several examples of people who had been recording police misconduct and had their cameras or cellphones broken or confiscated. Many have been arrested and/or made to delete content for the same reason.
“Journalists and mediactivists working in favelas not only are more frequent victims of violations, but also suffer from more intense and serious violations in general.”
In that sense, it is very reasonable to conclude that favelas are particularly sensitive areas due to their high levels of police brutality and state negligence and the now common practice of recording such episodes. Journalists and mediactivists working in favelas not only are more frequent victims of violations, but also suffer from more intense and serious violations in general.
What would you recommend journalists to do in such situations, how should they react when police forces threaten them?
It is vital that journalists and communicators in general are always aware of their rights, which include the right to film police activity without being subject to any sort of violence or impediment. However, it is also important to have the aforementioned context in mind in order to assess the risks in certain situations where filming can be a complicated issue.
“An interesting tactic that has been used by mediactivists in Brazil is to connect one’s filming device to an online cloud, if possible, so as to not lose your recordings if they are physically deleted or confiscated.”
In that sense, when violence or arrest are imminent, the most important thing is to keep calm, contact a lawyer and comply with law enforcement. Continue reading