IACHR and Its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression Reject Escalation of Tension, Intolerance, and Violence After Presidential Elections in Brazil

December 2, 2022

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship for Freedom of Expression reject the increase in the number of instances of violence and intolerance in the election context in Brazil. They urge the State to ensure the safety of all individuals, to diligently investigate the violence, and to foster full respect for democracy and public debate.

The voting took place quietly and peacefully, but the State reported that there were various acts of violence in the election context. One São Paulo legislator chased an Afro-descendant man and pointed a gun at him over alleged political disagreements; a 12-year-old Afro-descendant girl, Luana Rafaela Oliveira, was killed in a shooting in Belo Horizonte that was allegedly politically motivated, an incident in which a man also died and a woman was injured; and a boy fainted after being suffocated by a military police officer who had just heard the boy's political preferences.

In the context of demonstrations against the election's final results, where various roads in the country were blockaded, children, adolescents, women, and older persons were reportedly used as human shields against law enforcement officers in charge of freeing up roads. An officer of the federal traffic police was attacked while he was taking part in an operation to reopen roads that had been occupied by protesters, while several demonstrators were run over in São Paulo. A group of demonstrators made Nazi salutes after the election results did not favor their candidate in the state of Santa Catarina.

At least 40 teams of reporters were physically or verbally assaulted, harassed, or hounded by demonstrators once the election results had been made public. Demonstration coverage was obstructed, media vehicles were attacked, stigmatizing comments were made against reporters, and Afro-descendant journalists were targeted in discriminatory comments.

The Commission and its Special Rapporteurship call for a ban on all forms of propaganda in favor of war and national hatred based on religious or racial criteria that amount to incitements of violence, as well as all other illegal actions, like contradicting the democratic principle of the separation of powers and the expression of citizens' common will through an election. Both institutions stress the essential role played by the press to channel public debate and to keep society informed, particularly in demonstration contexts.

They therefore call on Brazil to investigate all these events with enhanced due diligence and with special consideration for particularly vulnerable groups, and to punish all individuals found responsible for acts of violence. The Commission and its Special Rapporteurship further ask the State to promote and protect the work done by journalists in situations of significant public interest. They both urge public authorities and the various institutions of the Brazilian State to help to reduce social tension with comments that focus on the truth and on validated information, and to support the use of institutional pathways as legitimate dispute-resolution mechanisms.

Finally, the Inter-American Commission stresses its confidence in Brazil's democratic institutions complete with a solid system of checks and balances, and calls on the highest authorities of the State to promote and strengthen genuine interinstitutional dialogue, in order to improve respect for democracy and to strengthen human rights in the country.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 266/22

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