Website editor’s release welcomed, but call for repeal of 1967 press law still stands

first_img Alarm after two journalists murdered in Brazil Receive email alerts April 15, 2021 Find out more News 2011-2020: A study of journalist murders in Latin America confirms the importance of strengthening protection policies News Reporters Without Borders today welcomed the release of José de Arimatéia Azevedo, the editor and columnist of the Portal AZ website in Teresina (in the northeastern state Piauí), who was freed on the night of 28 October, 48 hours after a judge ordered his arrest on charges of insult, libel and trying to influence the course of justice.But the press freedom organisation continued to call for the repeal of a press law dating back to the 1964-1985 military regime, under which Arimatéia was arrested.“The decision of the Piauí state authorities to free Arimatéia is a victory for press freedom and civil liberties in general, and runs counter to the 1967 federal law making press offences punishable by prison terms,” Reporters Without Borders said.“Although this repressive law is rarely used, it led to Arimatéia being arrested arbitrarily, and we hope this case will encourage the federal parliament to repeal it,” the organisation added.The decision by Teresina criminal court judge José Bonifácio Júnior to place Arimatéia in custody was overturned on 28 October by judge Edson Vigidal, the president of the Piauí state higher court, who ruled that: “Freedom is the rule in a democracy and the restriction of freedom is the exception, and it must be absolutely exceptional.”Vigidal said in his ruling that, to issue an order for pretrial custody, “there must be concrete evidence that the accused would seriously disrupt social peace, a criminal investigation or the implementation of a legal restraint if he or she were to remain at large.”The ruling concluded: “Arresting a journalist, censoring news media, seizing newspapers, books or magazines, or preventing radio or TV stations or websites from disseminating news constitute a violation of society’s right to information. Society has a right to be informed. If this information is of poor quality, it is up to society to reject, challenge or condemn it.”______________________________________________________________28.10.05 – Call for press law repeal after arrest of website editorReporters Without Borders called today on Brazil to repeal its press offences law, which enabled the arrest on 26 October of editor and commentator José de Arimatéia Azevedo, of the Internet website Portal AZ (www.portalaz.com.br), which was shut down by a judge in Teresina (capital of the northern state of Piauí). “He was arrested even though his lawyers said he had no intention of fleeing or avoiding a future court summons,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The Brazilian parliament should repeal the 1967 press law, passed during the 1964-85 military dictatorship and giving judges the right to imprison journalists for their public comments or writings.” Police arrested the editor in a raid on the Teresina offices of Portal AZ using a warrant issued a few hours earlier by Judge José Bonifácio Júnior at the request of lawyer Audrey Magalhães, who had been criticised in an editorial on the site.Arimatéia Azevedo, who has long specialised in investigating organised crime, criticised online (under the pseudonym of Xico Pitomba) Antonio Rivanildo Feitosa da Silva, of regional TV station Meio Norte (his former employers), who was suing him for defamation and insults. Arimatéia Azevedo responded on 6 October by criticising Magalhães, Meio Norte’s lawyer, and Feitosa da Silva. Magalhães then applied for his arrest for “insults” and for trying to “influence an ongoing legal action.” The warrant issued said Arimatéia Azevedo’s comments were obscene and “macho.” The Portal AZ editor, who has heart problems, is being held at the Piauí public security offices in Teresina. He told the online daily O Dia that a conciliation meeting between him and Feitosa da Silva had been set for 8 November. Justice officials are expected to rule on a request by his lawyers for a writ of habeas corpus early next week. Piauí state secretary for public security Roberto Ríos Magalhães called the shutdown of Portal AZ “illegal” on 27 October. The FENAJ national journalists’ federation also criticised Arimatéia Azevedo’s arrest as “an attack on press freedom, democracy and the national constitution.” BrazilAmericas RSF begins research into mechanisms for protecting journalists in Latin America to go further October 31, 2005 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Website editor’s release welcomed, but call for repeal of 1967 press law still stands RSF_en Reporters Without Borders hails the release of José de Arimatéia Azevedo (photo), editor and columnist of the Portal AZ website on 28 October, 48 hours after his arrest on charges of insult, libel and trying to influence the course of justice. The organisation continues to call for the repeal of a 1967 law on press offences. Organisation Help by sharing this information Reports BrazilAmericas April 27, 2021 Find out more News May 13, 2021 Find out more Follow the news on Brazillast_img read more