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Brazilian group publishes findings on violence against journalists during dictatorship

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today welcomed the steps taken by delegates of its affiliate in Brazil, the Federeção Nacional dos Jornalistas (FENAJ), to finalise and publish the findings of the Memory, Truth and Justice Commission it established in 2012 to investigate the cases of killings, disappearances, tortures and censorship of journalists during the country's dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.

The 200-strong 36th congress of the Federation, held in Maceió (State of Alagoas in North East Brazil), received up-to-date reports on the progress made so far and approved the July date for the publication of the report. FENAJ has set up local commissions, led by 26 of its affiliate unions, to investigate the crimes against journalists committed in their regions.

The IFJ President, Jim Boumelha, who attended the congress, took part in the various events showcasing the work of the commission.

“FENAJ is to be commended for its campaigns to stem the level of violence against journalists and media workers in Brazil where 34 were killed in the last five years. Their impressive work in unraveling the killings during the dictatorship, hearing testimonies and collecting documents is crucial at a time where the Brazilian government continues to be silent about what happened during that painful period,” he said.

Prior to the establishment of the commission, civil right organisations requested the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to lift the veil on the killing in 1975 of Vladimir Herzog in army custody in São Paulo, which was presented at the time as a suicide. The Brazilian government refused to carry out an investigation citing an Amnesty Law that does not allow incriminating state employees accused of human rights crimes during the dictatorship. A judge in São Paulo ordered the authorities to determine the circumstances of his death.

At a public rally attended by delegates, government officials, civil society leaders, human rights activists and families of the killed and disappeared journalists, FENAJ president Celso Schroder said: “FENAJ has set out to honour the victims of this historic and violent event in order to raise awareness about and repudiate the military coup of 1964. Thousands of Brazilians were tortured and killed, among them hundreds of journalists. In order to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice requires the revision of the Amnesty Law to punish the criminals.”

A majority of the commission's members suffered violence and other abuses at the hands of the military government. Carlos Alberto Caó, Rose Nogueira and Nimario Miranda, currently a Brazilian congress deputy, suffered at the hands of the dictatorship.

The IFJ is supporting FENAJ in its call for the Amnesty Law to be repealed and for the government to provide the true story about the crimes against journalists committed during the dictatorship.

Congress went on to discuss the alarming increase of violence against journalists at the hands of security forces as well as activists from the protest movement, and approved the creation of an observatory on violence against journalists and media workers.

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