On the frontline: Violence against Human Rights Defenders in Brazil
The survey carried out by Terra de Direitos and Justiça Global registered cases of violence against those who defend rights in Brazil throughout the entire government of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL), from 2019 to 2022.
The lives of human rights defenders are constantly in great danger, according to the study "On the Front Line: Violence against Human Rights Defenders in Brazil" ("Na Linha de Frente: violência contra defensores e defensoras de direitos humanos no Brasil"). The survey carried out by the organizations Terra de Direitos and Justiça Global (Land of Rights and Global Justice) registered cases of violence against those who defend rights in Brazil throughout the entire government of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL), from 2019 to 2022. The alarming data point to 1171 cases of violence, of which 169 were murders and 579 were threats. The data show the intensification of territorial and environmental conflicts in the country, with cases registered in all Brazilian states.
The study considered cases of violence against human rights defenders that occurred as a way to prevent the claim and defense of rights. Violence was categorized into eight types: threat, physical assault, murder, attack, criminalization, delegitimization, sexual harassment, and suicide. Episodes of violence registered throughout Brazil were considered. In addition, the survey considered cases of individual violence and against collectives, such as attacks against indigenous peoples and quilombolas. Bruno Pereira, Dom Phillips, Dilma Ferreira, Fernando Araújo dos Santos, and Paulo Paulino Guajajara are some of the 169 human rights defenders killed over the past 4 years. Most murders were caused by firearms (63.3% if the shooting and multiple shot categories are added).
In 11 of the murders, there is a reference to signs of torture found on the dead defender's body. In the case of the murder of indigenist Bruno Pereira and British journalist Dom Phillips, in Vale do Javari (AM) (Javari Valley), in June 2022, both were ambushed and killed while traveling by boat through the region. According to investigations, they were shot to death, burned, and buried. The crime would have been motivated by the work carried out by Bruno in the denouncement of illegal fishing in indigenous territory.
The data from the survey highlight that indigenous defenders were the targets of most of the violence suffered by human rights defenders: 346 cases, 50 of which were murders and 172 threats. The four years were marked by the adoption of an anti-indigenous policy by the federal government and the increase in the invasion and exploitation of traditional territories by mining, deforestation, and agribusiness.
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On the Front Line: Violence against Human Rights Defenders in Brazil
Development: Justiça Global and Terra de Direitos
Coordination: Alane Luzia da Silva, Darci Frigo, Franciele Petry Schramm, Glaucia Marinho, Luciana Cristina Furquim Pivato and Sandra Carvalho
Texts: Alane Luzia da Silva, Antonio Neto, Daniele Duarte, Daisy Carolina Ribeiro, Franciele Petry Schramm, Gizele Martins, Maria Eugenia Trombini, Sandra Carvalho, Rayssa Cavalcante Matos
Data survey: Alane Luiza da Silva, Antonio Neto, Daniele Duarte, Gláucia Marinho, Inara Flora Cipriano Firmino, Rhaysa Ruas, Rayssa Cavalcante Matos
Data processing and analysis: Maria Eugenia Trombini, Rhaysa Ruas
Communications team: Emily Maya Almeida, Gizele Martins, José Lucas Odeveza, Lizely Roberta Borges, Lanna Paulo Ramos
Acknowledgments: Camila Gomes, Élida Lauris and Rhaysa Ruas
Original brazilian portuguese proofreader: Silmara Krainer Vitta
Translation: Marcella de Melo Silva
Graphic design and layout: Coletivo
Ações: Human Rights Defenders
Eixos: Human rights policy and culture