In 2018, the Roraima state government filed a Direct Action of Unconstitutionality (ADI-5905) to overturn the presidential and legislative decrees that incorporate into the Brazilian legal system the provisions of Convention 169 of the ILO (International Labour Organization). This convention establishes the need to conduct free, prior and informed consultation with indigenous peoples on matters and measures that can affect their rights, their way of life and their culture. 

This obligation inconvenienced the state government: by federal court order, the state was forced to suspend the installation of transmission towers that affected the Waimiri Atroari indigenous community. The court ruling required the state to provide evidence that the indigenous peoples had been consulted. 

In addition to the effects that a declaration of unconstitutionality of the decrees would have on the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples, ADI-5905 could also disrupt the process of ratifying and denouncing treaties, in which the legislative branch plays a central role. 

In its application for admission as an amicus curiae in the case, Conectas noted that the Federal Constitution establishes that it is the “exclusive responsibility” of the National Congress to “resolve definitively on international treaties, agreements or acts that result in serious liabilities or commitments encumbering the national patrimony”. As such, explained Conectas, the denunciation of a treaty through a lawsuit, trampling on the democratic legislative debate, would set a dangerous precedent with regard to international commitments, which are essential for the defense of rights.

Finally, the organization argued that it is extremely important for the Supreme Court to establish an interpretation on the topic, since there are other lawsuits pending the Court on the same topic – such as ADI-6544 and ADI-1625.

Technical information

  • Case: ADI-5905
  • Court: Supreme Court
  • Status: Awaiting resumption of the judgment and a decision on the request for amicus curiae status
  • Procedure:
    • 3/5/18: Initial petition
    • 2/23/21: Request for admission as amicus curiae