On 21 May, a delegation comprising the executive director of Amnesty International Brazil, Jurema Werneck, and the Amnesty International Americas director, Erika Guevara-Rosas, will visit Brasilia, where they will attempt to deliver to President Bolsonaro and other representatives of the government a letter setting out these concerns, together with recommendations for guaranteeing, promoting and protecting human rights in the country.
“Some of the measures adopted or proposed by this government over the past five months raise many concerns,” said Jurema Werneck. “They could increase the risk of homicides with firearms. They legitimise a public security policy based on the use of lethal force. They violate the rights of indigenous peoples and Quilombolas. They base drug policy on punitive and ineffective practices. They could increase monitoring of NGOs without justification. They deny victims of the military regime the right to truth, justice and reparations. All of this is accompanied by an overtly anti-human-rights rhetoric which only adds to Amnesty International’s concerns about the human rights situation in Brazil.”
Erika Guevera-Rosas said: “It is an extremely delicate time in the Americas, with governments that, instead of protecting the human rights of the people in their countries, are promoting measures and policies that have devastating effects on those people (the Central Americans in need of protection in the United States, for example), or promoting violence and persecuting their opponents, as is happening in Venezuela and Nicaragua. In the past few months, we have seen how this regressive trend is affecting Brazil, with President Bolsonaro’s government taking some worrying stances.”
“In 2017, Amnesty International showed that Brazil was one of the most dangerous countries in the Americas for human rights defenders, and Global Witness revealed that it was the riskiest in the world for defenders of human rights relating to land or the environment. President Jair Bolsonaro must take urgent measures to turn the situation around, comply with the international treaties Brazil has ratified, guarantee freedom of action for people and organisations working to creating a better society in the country, and abandon his anti-human-rights rhetoric, which legitimises violations against certain groups.”
Erika Guevara-Rosas, is worried by the shrinking space for civil society across the world, with the adoption of many laws seeking to control or hamper the work of non-governmental organisations.
“Unfortunately, more and more countries are trying to control non-governmental organisations and to hinder the work of organisations that play a crucial role in drawing attention to errors, crimes and human rights violations committed by the state. We are concerned that the measures taken by the current Brazilian government on the monitoring of NGOs are steps in that same direction,” said Beltrán. “The international community will continue to keep a close eye on Bolsonaro and his government’s compliance with their obligation to protect and guarantee human rights”.
This measure, like many others, comes in the context of a toxic, overtly anti-human-rights rhetoric. Erika Guevara-Rosas added: “Recently, we have seen political leaders in many countries campaigning with an overtly anti-human-rights agenda and rhetoric. In Brazil, this rhetoric is beginning to be turned into concrete actions. We therefore urge Bolsonaro to adopt firm and decisive measures to protect and guarantee human rights throughout the country and to ensure that the people who defend and campaign for such rights can do so without fear of reprisals”.
For more information, contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty
Brazil: Toxic speech must not become government policy (News, 28 October 2018)