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World HRW calls on Brazilian authorities to guarantee «free and secure» voting rights to Brazilians

11:00  29 september  2022
11:00  29 september  2022 Source:   news360.es

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The NGO Human Right Watch (HRW) has called on Brazilian authorities to ensure that Brazilians can exercise their right to vote "freely and safely", referring to the escalation of violence in the run-up to the October 2 elections.

The organization has pointed to political violence, harassment of journalists or attempts to undermine confidence in the electoral system as events that have increased during the campaign and pre-campaign for the presidential elections.

"Hate speech, harassment and serious political violence on the Internet and in real life have made many Brazilians fearful of expressing political opinions and exercising their political rights," said HRW's Latin America director, Juanita Goebertus.

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"Electoral and judicial authorities, police forces and other authorities must do everything possible to protect freedom of expression and assembly, and ensure that Brazilians can vote safely," she added.

Three supporters of Workers' Party presidential candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva have been assassinated in recent months. One of them died in July and the other two in September, allegedly because of their political positions. In contrast, President Jair Bolsonaro was stabbed during the 2018 election campaign.

The Observatory of Political and Electoral Violence of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro has compiled 214 cases of threats and violence against people doing politics or their family members from January to June. Female candidates, especially black and transgender women, are particularly prone to receive threats and online harassment, available data collected by the NGO show.

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In a survey published on September 15, nearly 70 percent of Brazilians surveyed said they feared violence because of their political views.

Journalists covering the elections have been harassed by candidates from various political parties. The non-profit organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Federal University of Espírito Santo identified more than 2.8 million posts on social networks with offensive content against the media during the first three weeks of the current election campaign.

The study also found that journalists, particularly women, were subjected to online harassment by supporters of President Bolsonaro after he publicly insulted them.

"All candidates should condemn political violence, refrain from harassing journalists, and call on their supporters to respect the right of Brazilians to peacefully elect their representatives and run for office without fear," Human Right Watch said.

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On September 22, eight UN rapporteurs warned of rising political violence in Brazil and called on Brazilian authorities to protect electoral institutions and candidates, and ensure that "everyone can participate freely in the electoral process."

To this end, the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) has created an intelligence unit, in cooperation with state police, to combat political violence and has approved the deployment of the Armed Forces in more than 500 municipalities in 11 states, at the request of state officials. Its mission is limited to guaranteeing the security of electoral material and protecting voters and election workers.

"Foreign governments should support free and fair elections in Brazil," Goebertus has argued.

"The international community must support the Brazilian people and unequivocally reject any attempt to disrupt the right to vote and deprive them of their right to freely elect their representatives," he added.

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