Brazilian senator Damares Alves (Republicans Party) and the State will compensate the population of Marajó, in Pará State, with 5 million reais (about US$1 million) for spreading fake news about sexual abuse and torture of children on the archipelago. The request was made by Brazil’s Federal Public Ministry (MPF in Portuguese), which judged a Public Civil Action on Monday, September 11, regarding statements made by Bolsonaro’s former minister of Women, Family and Human Rights during the 2022 electoral campaign.
The compensation claim is for collective social and moral damages. Resources must be used to carry out social projects aimed at the archipelago region. Each defendant must pay half the amount.
According to the procedural instrument, on October 8, 2022, the then recently elected senator Damares Alves said, during a worship service held in the city of Goiânia (Goiás state), that children in Marajó were being tortured and sexually abused. “These horrible crimes were mentioned during Jair Bolsonaro’s electoral campaign for reelection. According to Damares, Bolsonaro was the victim of a so-called ‘spiritual war'”, reads the document.
In the condemnation request, the Federal Public Ministry determined that Damares and the State must publish an apology for the falsehoods she said. That must be made public through official government channels and other media platforms.
The Federal Public Ministry also points out the passive legitimacy of the State for the damages caused by the defendant Damares Alves due to her being Minister of State during the episode. Therefore, the MPF requests that the State prepare, publish and immediately carry out an action plan with a minimum schedule of four years to achieve the goals listed in the Marajó Citizenship Program, established by Ordinance 292 on May 17, 2023.
According to the public prosecutors who signed the action, the violations in the Marajó archipelago do not justify “the sensationalist use of Marajó population’s social vulnerability associated with the dissemination of falsehoods, as a political and electoral platform for the benefit of the then president of the Republic and the minister herself.”
The Public Civil Action also says that besides contributing to nothing, the repeated discriminatory misinformation released by a high-ranking federal authority reinforces stereotypes and “misguides society and harms relevant public policies from being carried out, initiatives committed to improving Marajó residents’ social conditions. Therefore, these declarations cause evident collective social and non-pecuniary harms”, says the document.
The document states that information sent by the then Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights was not proven. Pará state reported no records of the alleged international trafficking of children and teenagers. Brazil’s Federal Police also reported no investigations that coincided with the facts narrated by the former minister. Also, the Federal Public Ministry has not received any complaints about the matter in the last 30 years.
Public Civil Action
The legal action is at the beginning. Deadlines are still to be scheduled for both the State and Senator Damares to defend themselves and present any evidence.
In a statement, the Senator’s press office said “as this is a matter involving children, Senator Damares Alves will only comment on the matter in the case file. The Senator hopes the MPF will be relentless in hunting down children’s sexual abusers and also search for missing children in Brazil.”
Edited by: Nadini Lopes and Márcia Silva