As the entire world turns its gaze on Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is launching a campaign to draw attention to violence against journalists in Brazil. With at least 22 journalists killed in connection with their work since the last Olympics in 2012, Brazil is now Latin America’s second deadliest country for media personnel.
Produced jointly with Cheeeeese, an international branding agency, and called “Some wins don’t deserve medals” (Algumas vitórias não merecem medalhas), the campaign aims to make Brazilian society and the international community more aware of the dangers for journalists and to put pressure on the authorities to take concrete measures to protect them.
The staff of RSF’s Rio de Janeiro-based regional bureau will go to several Olympic sites during the games to help get the message across.
Since the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, 22 journalists have been killed in Brazil for reasons that were clearly linked to their journalistic activities. During this period, Brazil has risen to rank second only to Mexico in Latin America for the number of murdered journalists.
In most of the cases registered by RSF, the journalists – who included news reporters, radio hosts and bloggers – were investigating and covering stories linked to corruption, public policy or organized crime, especially in small or mid-sized towns.
The increase in the number of murders, which began in 2010, is unfortunately not the only threat to the physical safety of journalists in Brazil. The big demonstrations in 2013 were marked by a climate of violence towards the media. Reporters covering the protests were systematically targeted by the police, physically attacked or arbitrarily arrested.
The trend continued during the protests and social unrest that accompanied the FIFA World Cup held in Brazil in 2014. According to the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), a total of 190 cases of aggression against journalists were reported during the protests, the majority of them committed by the police.
The current political polarization in Brazil is reinforcing the climate of mistrust towards journalists. During street protests in the major cities, journalists are targeted and insulted by demonstrators, who associate them with the editorial positions of the media outlets they work for. This is a long-standing problem, but the Brazilian authorities have not taken any measures to contain it.
Brazil is ranked 104th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.