Past Event

Freedom of Expression Under Attack: Global Experiences and Lessons from Brazil

October 21, 2020
5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Online Event




While Brazil has a tumultuous history, a free press has always managed to survive and to act as a check on government authority and a promoter of an informed citizenry. Important newspapers, such as O Dia and Jornal do Brasil, led the anti-censorship movements under the years of the Brazilian military dictatorship, for example, and succeeded for a while in this mission. 


While traditional journalism in the form of newspapers stands ever in the need of protection, this area should be seen in the context of freedom of expression more broadly understood, encompassing the newer social media, access to the internet, and certainly artistic expression as well.  With the new alt right movement, allied with authoritarian governments, making startling inroads throughout the world, fake news have become extremely powerful means to manipulate mass communication, leading to bitter partisanship almost everywhere one looks.


Inspired by the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Project and convinced of its relevance to contemporary Brazil, the CGC Rio proposes a high-profile conversation with leading Columbia faculty and Brazilian media experts in addressing the perils for freedom of expression in democracies and far more fragile than we once thought .



Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger, a noted First Amendment scholar, established Columbia Global Freedom of Expression in 2014, bringing together international experts and activists with the University’s faculty and students to survey, document, and strengthen free expression. Dr. Agnès Callamard is the initiative’s director. She is a distinguished human rights advocate and a freedom of expression scholar who for eight years led the organization ARTICLE 19. Dr. Callamard also currently holds the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

After Mission of the Columbia Global Freedom of Expression: established by President Bollinger in 2014, seeks to contribute to the development of an integrated and progressive jurisprudence and understanding on freedom of expression and information around the world.






Associação Samambaia Filantropias

Samambaia Filantropias is an organization for private social investments directed by Guilherme Cezar Coelho and which operates as a donor to projects on freedom of expression, awareness in Brazil about the climate crisis, and progressive taxation. Samambaia Filantropias has developed partnerships with national and international actors, such as Columbia University Global Center Rio de Janeiro, in addition to also maintaining, an organization whose mission is to promote excellence in the Brazilian public sector. In order to strengthen Brazilian civil society, Samambaia Filantropias also leads the Brazilian translation and edition of the Stanford Social Innovation Review magazine, being responsible for part of the financing and the search for national and international partnerships. Samambaia Filantropias also finances the Liberdade, Liberdade project, with the support of Article 19 and 342Artes with the objective of strengthening and disseminating the debate on freedom of expression and making a political impact in the area by building a collaborative platform for receiving complaints of situations censorship and persecution that may be occurring throughout the national territory, construction of a National Observatory against Censorship from the junction of existing initiatives, formal monitoring of the causes of censorship, national and international litigation and communication and strategic campaigns.


Ana Toni:

Founder of GIP, Ana Toni is the Executive Director from Instituto Clima e Sociedade (iCS). From 2003 until May 2011, Ana Toni was the Representative for the Ford Foundation in Brazil, during which time she oversaw the Foundation’s work in the areas of human rights, sustainable development, racial and ethical discrimination, sexuality and reproductive health, media democratization and land rights. She was also responsible for coordinating the regional Latin America funding on Economics and Globalization, the IBSA initiative (joint work between Brazil, South Africa and India) and the International Initiative on Intellectual Property Rights. From 1998 to 2002 Ana was the Executive Director of ActionAid Brazil, and the Policy Advisor of ActionAid UK from 1990 to 1993). From 1994 to 1998 she worked at Greenpeace International as the Head of the Political Unit. Ana was the Board Chair of Greenpeace Brazil from 2000 to 2003 and the Board Chair of Greenpeace International from 2010 to 2017. In addition, she is a member of the Editorial Board of Le Monde Diplomatique Brazil, a Board member of the Baoba Fund for Racial Equity. Ana graduated in Economic and Social Studies at Wales University and has a PhD on Political Science at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.


Agnes Callamard:

Director, Columbia Global Freedom of Expression; Special Adviser to the President, Office of the President

Dr. Agnès Callamard took up the post of Executive Director for ARTICLE 19, the international human rights organization working globally for freedom of expression in October 2004. She has had a distinguished career in human rights and humanitarian work. Agnès is a former Chef de Cabinet for the Secretary General of Amnesty International and, as the organization’s Research Policy Coordinator, led Amnesty’s work on women’s human rights. Agnès has conducted human rights investigations in a large number of countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. She founded and led HAP International (the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership) where she oversaw field trials in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Sierra Leone, and worked extensively in the field of international refugee movements with the Center for Refugee Studies in Toronto. Agnès is also a UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, including state-sponsored murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. She has written on and been published widely in the fields of human rights, women’s rights, refugee movements, and accountability. Agnès holds a PhD in political science from the New School for Social Research in New York.


Patricia Campos Melo:

Patrícia Campos Mello is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the daily Folha de S. Paulo, one of Brazil’s biggest news outlets, and an experienced international correspondent. She has reported on human rights and public health stories in Brazil, including on babies being born with microcephaly as a result of the Zika virus in 2016. She has also reported on the war in Afghanistan, the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, the national elections in India, and migration and the refugee crisis in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Turkey, Lebanon, and Kenya.


Denise Dora:

Executive Director - South America at ARTICLE 19.

Lawyer with academic background and experience in the area of ​​human rights, women's rights, anti-discrimination law. Extensive experience with third sector, national and international non-governmental organizations, and foundations in the non-profit sector.


Ricardo Gandour:

Brazilian journalist and consultant

Columbia Journalism School Visiting Scholar