In 2018, Brazil was ranked 102 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Boarders (RSF).
RSF is an international non-profit, non-governmental organization based in Paris, France. It conducts political advocacy on issues relating to freedom on information and freedom of the press.
Brazil’s ranking on the Freedom Index has been increasing and decreasing since 2013. Its ranking increased by 1 in 2018, as it was ranked 103 in 2017.
A former Portuguese colony, Brazil is the largest country in South America with over 208 million people. It is the fifth largest and fifth most-populous country in the world. According to BBC News World Country Reports, Brazil is South America’s most influential country, a rising economic power and one of the world’s biggest democracies. It has made major efforts to raise millions out of poverty over the past few years.
Brazil is a federal republic governed under a presidential system. However, corruption is in the population at top levels, contributing to the country’s lack of national mechanism for their protection. The freedom to inform is far from being a priority for the authorities amongst the high level of political instability, as seen in President Dilma Rousseff’s removal due to the manipulation of federal budget to hide Brazil’s economic problems in 2016.
Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, is a retired army officer and member of the Social Liberal Party, an anti-establishment group that combines both social conservatism and pro-market policies. Bolsonaro secured the presidency as his campaign was characterized by pledges to wipe out corruption, violent crime, as well as attacks on critical media.
The constitution guarantees freedom of expression and belief, according to Freedom House, a U.S based government-funded, non-governmental organization that conducts research on democracy, political freedom and human rights. Thus, resulting in Brazil’s aggregate freedom score, 75 out of 100; 0 being least free and 100 being most free.
Independent journalists and civil society activists risk harassment and violent attack, as it is known to be one of Latin America’s most violent countries for journalists. Brazil is more insecure than ever, according to RSF violence of press freedom barometer, 4 journalists were killed in 2018.
The confidentiality of journalists’ sources is under constant attack and many investigative reporters, particularly those who cover corruption and crime, face threats, harassment, obstruction, and violence, have been subjected to abusive judicial proceedings.
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Rowena Djengozov is a JMC student who is interested in Mass Communication.