Belo Monte. Photo courtesy of Antonia Melo.
AIDA and partner organizations requested a hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights where civil society organizations demonstrated how measures adopted by the administration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro are undoing decades of human rights protections in the country in an effort to halt further rollbacks, and to demand a reversal of the government’s actions that are currently threatening indigenous communities.
Last May, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) heard how measures adopted by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro have rolled back protections for human rights in the country, creating a dangerous situation for indigenous communities and violating Brazil’s international obligations to protect human rights.
The hearing formed part of the Commission’s 172 Period of Sessions, which toke place in Kingston, Jamaica.
During the hearing, we detailed how reforms made by the Bolsonaro government in matters of law, public policy, foreign policy, and other areas, violate the preservation of indigenous communities’ way of life in the country. The case also shows how those reforms violate communities’ rights to life, culture, food, a healthy environment, clean water, and the delimitation of their ancestral homelands, among others.
The government has diminished legal and administrative protections for indigenous communities through the following actions:
- The transfer of key functions from the Ministry of Environment to the Ministry of Agriculture.
- Increased precarity for employees at the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources.
- Weakening of the Chico Mendes Institute for the Conservation of Biodiversity and of the process for granting environmental permits.
- The threat of exposing indigenous lands to the dangers of mining.
- Measures adopted by the Ministry of Environment that fragment the legal order that guarantees minimum conditions for the protection of the environment and indigenous rights.
- The transfer of authority for the demarcation of indigenous lands from the National Indian Foundation to the Ministry of Agriculture.
- The threat of withdrawing Brazil from international treaties like the Paris Agreement and others valuable agreements to protect the environment and human rights.
In addition to these rollbacks, we asserted that the situation has been aggravated by increased deforestation, encroachment on indigenous lands, and violence against environmental and human rights defenders.
At AIDA we continue to support the local organizations defending their lands and their rights, and by presenting their cases at the Commission’s hearings allows us to bring international attention to the issues.