ARTICLE 19 has launched a campaign to promote the decriminalisation of defamation in Brazil
Called ‘Liberate your Voice’, the campaign calls for the crime to be removed from the Penal Code. Defamation is currently being debated by the Brazilian Parliament, with a view to reform.
To support the campaign, ARTICLE 19 has produced a mini-documentary called “I, the colonel in myself”. The film features interviews with people who have been prosecuted for defamation, as well as experts on the subject. Among them is the Brazilian journalist Cristian Goés, who was convicted of defamation, and received over 7 months in prison for a fictional story he wrote. The penalty was commuted into community services.
Camila Marques, a lawyer with Article 19, believes the campaign is important to draw attention to the damage that lawsuits based on defamation have caused to freedom of expression.
“Today, in Brazil, a person can go to prison for a text they have written. This is extremely harmful because it creates the effect of inhibiting people from criticising the powerful”, she says.
According to Marques, this is the best time to discuss the decriminalisation of defamation, since the reform of the Penal Code is being debated in parliament.
“We believe that those who offend the reputation of a third party should be judged based on laws in the Civil Code, and not on the Penal Code, thus avoiding all the social stigma of a criminal conviction. And if it happens, a conviction must still obey clear and objective criteria and should not cause disproportionate and unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression,” she concludes.
Watch the mini-documentary with subtitles here.