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Judge orders humour columnist to refrain from writing about actress; police arrest photographer, hinder work of reporters

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 15 July 2009, Judge João Paulo Capanema de Souza, of Río de Janeiro's 24th Special Civil Court, ordered columnist José Simão, of the "Folha de S. Paulo" newspaper, to refrain from making references to TV Globo actress Juliana Paes in his humour writings or he would be subject to a fine of US$5,000.

Paes filed a complaint against the columnist and the newspaper after Simão made humourous analogies between her and her character in a soap opera. Making reference to the characters Indian caste (casta, in Portuguese), Simão wrote that in real life Paes is "not chaste at all" (also casta in Portuguese). The actress said the columnist had exceeded permissible limits, affecting her and her family's honor.

The "Folha de S. Paulo"'s lawyers, Taís Gasparian and Mônica Galvão, view the judge's decision as having dealt with humour as though it is unlawful, "which amounts to censorship". Simão has said he will not apologise because he does not believe the word "casta" to be offensive. He went on to say that the ruling against him affects freedom of expression.

In a separate development, on 16 July, freelance photographer Antônio Carlos Argemi was arrested by the police as he covered a demonstration by public school teachers in front of the home of Governor Yeda Crusius. The incident took place in Porto Alegre, the capital city of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in southern Brazil.

Rio Grande do Sul's Journalists' Union reported that Argemi was accused of disrespecting the authorities and was taken to the police station, where he was questioned and then released. Argemi has said he will file a complaint regarding the incident.

Other journalists were also prevented from covering the demonstration. According to José María Rodrigues Nunes, the journalists' union president, the police cordoned off the area to keep reporters away. Six demonstrators were also detained.
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