UN experts: Brazil taking “negative steps” in commitment to freedom of opinion News
UN experts: Brazil taking “negative steps” in commitment to freedom of opinion

Recent measures taken by Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer [official website, in Portuguese], are “negative steps for a country known for its solid commitment to freedom of opinion and expression,” according to a joint statement [press release] by UN Special Rapporteur David Kaye and OAS Inter-American Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression Edison Lanza. Several recent actions by Temer’s government have caused concern, including the termination of the chief executive officer of the Brazilian Public Broadcaster (EBC) [official website, in Portuguese] in May. The executive was reinstated in his position after appealing to the nation’s highest court, but several journalists’ contracts were terminated in this time because of an alleged political bias. The government also merged the National Controller’s Office (CGU), into the Ministry of Transparency, Monitoring and Oversight. The experts say this is troubling because the CGU played a critical role in promoting access of information in Brazil. According to news reports, Temer will also introduce a bill [TeleSur report] in the legislature that would dissolve the EBC’s council and enact budget cuts that would lead to the shut down of TV Brasil. The human rights experts wrote that ““Brazil is undergoing a critical period and should ensure it preserves the progress it has made in the promotion of freedom of expression and access to public information over the last two decades.”

Michele Temer was made interim president while President Dilma Rousseff [official website, in Portuguese] goes through her impeachment trial. In May, the senate of Brazil voted [JURIST report] to initiate the impeachment trial against Rousseff for allegedly borrowing from state banks to cover a deficit and pay for social programs to secure her re-election in 2014. In the time that Temer has served as interim president, UN experts have also urged [JURIST report] Brazil to place more emphasis on remedying and preventing business-related human rights violations.