Prior censorship

Police encircle demonstrators during a protest at Roosevelt square, in September 2014 Police encircle demonstrators during a protest at Roosevelt square, in September 2014

The decision by the São Paulo Military Police, announced on Wednesday (January 7), to encircle the demonstration organized by the Free Fare Movement, scheduled for today, and to search anyone present at the location has been classified by Conectas, Article 19 and the Human Rights Center of the São Paulo Public Defender’s Office as “absolutely illegal”. The announcement was made by Major Larry de Almeida Saraiva, commander of the operation organized to police the event.

In a document submitted to the State Public Security Department yesterday (January 8), the organizations expressed concern over possible violations of the freedoms of assembly, association and expression.

Click here to read the full document submitted to the São Paulo State Public Security Department.

In addition to mentioning the “track record of repression by the São Paulo Military Police in public demonstrations”, the organizations defended that “the intention to isolate the demonstrators and indiscriminately search everyone present at the site of the event amounts to a prior censorship for citizens who want to exercise their fundamental rights”. They argue that the decision may be a sign that the “São Paulo Military Police is planning to foil the demonstration instead of ensuring the means necessary for the right of assembly to be exercised”.

The warning of possible violations was also sent to the State Public Prosecutor’s Office, the State Public Defender’s Office and the Human Rights Commission of the Brazilian Bar Association.

Read the full documents sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office and the Bar Association.

“Encircling and searching people indiscriminately is an affront to the freedoms and guarantees of the Constitution and international treaties signed by Brazil. If the plan announced by Major Saraiva goes ahead, the state government will be opening another serious chapter in the long list of violations committed against demonstrators,” said Marcos Fuchs, associate director of Conectas.

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