Brazil: Respect for the rights of indigenous peoples is fundamental to environmental conservation

Rio de Janeiro, February 11, 2020.- The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) expresses its concern over Bill 191/2020 proposed by President Jair Bolsonaro which “regulates the first paragraph of article 176 and the third paragraph of article 231 of the Constitution to establish specific conditions for conducting research and mining mineral and hydrocarbon resources, as well as the use of water resources to generate electricity in indigenous lands ... ”

As a project that will potentially authorize large-scale economic activities on indigenous lands, such as mining and oil and gas extraction, it is unclear whether there will be any safeguards to guarantee indigenous peoples their rights to free, prior and informed consultation or their survival. We note that the rights of indigenous peoples are guaranteed by both the Brazilian Federal Constitution and in multiple international human rights treaties adhered to by Brazil.

Furthermore, this bill is presented in a context of accelerated deforestation and an increase in deaths and violations of the rights of environmental defenders. In the coming days, Brazil will remember the 15th anniversary of the murder of Dorothy Stang, the American missionary who was brutally shot by six times in the chest, back and head in 2005. Dorothy Stang, a human rights and environmental advocate, worked to defend the people of the countryside, forest, and environment.

Given these considerations, CEJIL calls on the Brazilian State not to develop legislative proposals that have the potential to intensify and further deepen deforestation, risk to local communities, and the future generations of Brasil. We demand that decisions that could jeopardize indigenous peoples and other groups that protect the environment be developed according to constitutional and international standards.

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