Truth commission to investigate crimes against journalists during military dictatorship in Brazil
Violence and abuses committed against Brazilian journalists during the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985 will now be closely investigated by the Memory, Truth and Justice Commission, launched by the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ in Portuguese) during the International Conference on Human Rights and Journalism on Friday, Jan. 18, reported the organization's website.
Together with state journalists' unions, the group will investigate cases of censorship, killings, disappearances and other forms of violence and restrictions on the practice of journalism in Brazil during the dictatorship. Journalist Audálio Dantas will serve as the commission's president, alongside FENAJ's Sérgio Murillo, Rose Nogueira, Carlos Alberto Caó and Deputy Nilmário Miranda.
The commission's main objective is to produce a report for the National Truth Commission, founded in May 2012 to "investigate serious human rights violations carried out by public agents" during the dictatorship, according to the group's website.
A majority of the commission's members suffered violence and other abuses at the hands of the military government. Caó, Nogueira and Miranda were political prisoners during the dictatorship and Dantas was the president of the São Paulo Journalists Union when reporter Vladimir Herzog was illegally detained, tortured and killed by the military government in 1975. "In my opinion, one of the commission's most important contributions will be to understand the cases of censorship that took place across Brazil during the dictatorship," Dantas said in an interview with the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. "Censorship is one of the least studied constraints on journalism until today and, therefore, we're going to talk about it, hear testimony and collect documents to prove these cases."
The commission's president also pointed out that until now the Brazilian government has been silent on cases of violence against journalists during the period--and today too. "Already this year a Brazilian journalist has been killed. The government still has not provided the true story about the death of Herzog," even though in 1978 a judge in São Paulo ordered authorities to determine the circumstances of his death, Dantas said.
Besides the report to be presented to the national commission, FENAJ's Memory, Truth and Justice Commission will also make their findings available online for the public. "Otherwise we would continue to conceal the crimes against the press committed during the dictatorship, just like the government has to justify the Amnesty Law," Dantas said.
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