Christian Aid condemns killings of Brazilian human rights defenders

By agency reporter
March 17, 2018

Christian Aid has condemned this week’s killings of human rights defenders in Brazil and called for urgent inquiries into their deaths. Those murdered include popular city councillor, Marielle Franco, whose funeral took place on 15 March 2018, and environmental activist Paulo Nascimento.

Karol Balfe, Head of From Violence to Peace at Christian Aid, said: “Christian Aid strongly condemns this week’s killings of human rights defenders in Brazil, which are a chilling indictment of the grave threats faced by those speaking out against injustice.

“Urgent measures must be taken to ensure that human rights advocates in Brazil are protected, amid these clear efforts to silence them.

“The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions should carry out an immediate visit to Brazil to highlight this crisis and engage with the Brazilian government and other actors to protect the lives of Brazilian human rights defenders.

“The Brazilian authorities must also open a proper, independent and impartial investigation into these murders to identify the perpetrators and secure prosecution to ensure justice is done”, said Ms Balfe.

On 14 March, Marielle Franco, city councillor and police critic, along with her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot dead in a targeted assassination in Rio de Janeiro. She was a black woman who defied the odds of Rio politics to win the fifth highest vote count among council members when she was elected in 2016. 

As an expert on police violence, on 10 March, she accused officers of being overly aggressive in searching residents of gang-controlled shanty towns. On the same day in São Paulo, teachers holding a protest to oppose the voting of a reform on pensions were fired upon by riot police with tear gas and rubber bullets.

On 11 March, Paulo Nascimento, a community leader known for denouncing human rights violations related to bauxite contamination, was shot dead in the village of Barcarena, in the Amazon region. He had been leading a legal claim for environmental damages against a Norwegian-owned aluminium plant accused of contaminating local water sources, causing illness and poisoning produce. However, the motive for his murder is unknown. 

Christian Aid is working in Brazil to support human rights defenders, social movements and civil society organisations to speak up against all kinds of injustice that prevent people from living a fulfilling life free from violence. With its partners, it works with the most vulnerable groups to tackle the root causes of inequality and marginalisation by promoting people’s political and economic rights, advocating for land and territorial rights and promoting fair international agreements.

* Christian Aid https://www.christianaid.org.uk/

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