Knight Center
Knight Center


Brazil to open commission on press violations during the military dictatorship

The National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ in Portuguese) will launch a commission in January 2013 to investigate the persecution of the press during the military dictatorship in Brazil, reported the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. The Memory, Truth and Justice Commission will investigate cases of censorship, killings, disappearances and other forms of violence and restrictions on the press between 1964 and 1985.

According to FENAJ President Celso Schröder, the objective of the group is to produce a report that can contribute to the National Truth Commission (CNV in Portuguese), opened in May of this year to "investigate serious Human Rights violations committed by public agents, which occurred between Sept. 18, 1946 and Oct. 5, 1988," according to the CNV website.

"We're going to do like other social groups--peasants, indigenous, lawyers--and create a group of people to produce a report about attacks on the press during the military dictatorship," said Schröder in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas.

The FENAJ commission will work in conjunction with 31 state journalist unions across the country, organizing subgroups to map offenses in each state. "I have seen indictions that there will be many cases uncovered in the interior of Brazil," Schröder said. "The reports we have today on press freedom violations during the dictatorship are focused on big cities, that's why I think demonstrating what happened in other states and cities will be an important result of this project."

The idea is to produce a report that will be turned into the National Truth Commission with audiovisual materials available to the public. The decision on how the report will look and other materials will be used is still being finalized, according to Schröder but the Vladimir Herzog Institute, a non-profit named in honor of a journalist killed during the dictatorship, has already released 160 hours of testimonials from journalists and individuals involved in crimes against the press at the time.

Schröder said a key feature of their commission will be to "tell the story through the logic of a journalist." To achieve this, they decided to focus on testimonials, written and recorded, from journalists and the people close to them who experienced censorship, violence, torture and disappearances in the era between 1964 and 1988.

Vladimir Herzog is the most famous case of a journalist killed during the Brazilian military dictatorship. The killing prompted the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to take legal action against Brazil for not investigating the circumstance of the journalist's death.


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