Reporters Without Borders

Court gags daily at the demand of a politician

Court gags daily at the demand of a politician

Published on Wednesday 19 May 2010.
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A civil court has since 11 May banned daily newspaper Diário do Grande ABC from publishing any articles about a case implicating Luiz Marinho, the mayor of São Bernardo do Campo, in São Paulo state.

Reporters Without Borders said today that the ruling was in conflict with the spirit of the 1988 federal constitution that protects freedom of expression.

The mayor, a former minister under President Lula, reportedly sent scholastic equipment in perfect condition to be recycled. The Diário do Grande ABC faces a daily fine of 500 reals (225 euros) if it breaks the law. The newspaper has lodged an appeal.

The daily reported on 24 February that the council was sending equipment belonging to the municipal education network to be recycled even though it was in good condition. The mayor immediately sued the newspaper for “moral damages” and sought a ban on the newspaper from publishing other articles linking his name to this type of case. The civil court in Santo André granted his request. The article in question explicitly gave the mayor the opportunity to explain himself but neither the mayor nor the court appeared to take this into account.

“We believe this decision is at odds with the spirit of the 1988 federal constitution that enshrines free expression among its fundamental principles. It is unbelievable that one year after the federal Supreme Court revoked the 1967 law of the military regime, that the practice of direct media censorship still goes on, and even worse that it should be under pressure from politicians”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

In a similar case, the daily O Estado de São Paulo convicted of implicating the businessman Fernando Sarney, son of Brazil’s former president and current president of the Senate José Sarney.

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