On the morning of Wednesday (22), in Geneva (Switzerland), the organisations, Conectas Human Rights and Comissão Arns denounced the delay in investigations into the disappearance and deaths of the indigenist Bruno Pereira and the journalist, Dom Phillips. The speech was made during the 50th session of the UN Human Rights Council.
“The murders of Bruno and Dom demonstrate the growing risks faced by those who dare to defend Brazil´s environment and indigenous communities which are facing a historic setback under the government of Jair Bolsonaro”, the organisations stressed in the speech.
The organisations called on the Brazilian government to further investigate the murders, particularly regarding who may be behind the crime. The collective also asked the international community to accompany the investigation and to demand justice of the Brazilian government. They highlighted the urgent need to protect indigenous communities in the Javari valley and to strengthen devices to protect the environment and those who defend it.
According to the coordinator of the Conectas programme Defending Socioenvironmental Rights, Julia Neiva, the murder of the two men bears witness to the seriously unsafe situation in which defenders, journalists and indigenous leaders in Brazil find themselves.
“Although murders and threats of defenders have been going on for years in Brazil, the current situation is even more serious. The current government incites arming the population and violence against indigenous people and activists. Furthermore, it has deliberately dismantled public institutions that protect human rights and the environment, such as FUNAI and IBAMA and the Ministry for the Environment”, she said.
“The deaths of journalists and activists like Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira is a barbaric crime that needs to be investigated. This is a question of crimes being committed against the indigenous peoples and the forest and an attempt to intimidate anyone who dares to defend indigenous rights and the environment. For this reason, the people responsible for this must not go unpunished”, said Oscar Vilhena, lawyer and founding member of the Comissão Arns.
Members of the Brazilian diplomatic service, who participated in the meeting of the council, stated that the Brazilian government is aware of the repercussions of the facts mentioned by Conectas and has been making all possible efforts to guarantee access to justice for the families of the victims and to hold those involved accountable for the disappearance and deaths of the journalist, Dom Phillips and the indigenist, Bruno Pereira. The Brazilian Foreign Office also stated that Brazil acknowledges and values the work of human rights defenders.