Re: Erastótenes de Almeida Gonçalves and others (1)

Re: Erastótenes de Almeida Gonçalves, Nelson José da Silva, João Batista Soares Lages, Aílton Pereira de Oliveira

To: Excelentíssimo Senhor Presidente da República Federativa do Brasil

From: Jenna Virk

Date: 2004-02-26

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (“LRWC”), a committee of Canadian lawyers, provides support internationally to human rights defenders and promotes the enforcement of human rights standards and the rule of law.

LRWC is gravely concerned by information received from the Observatory regarding the death of these individuals who work for the Ministry of Labour.

Reports indicate that Mr. Erastótenes de Almeida Gonçalves, Nelson José da Silva and João Batista Soares Lages were assassinated on their way to investigate a case of slavery in the State of Minas Gerais. There is reason to believe that these men were murdered because of their past work to end slavery.

LRWC supports your government’s initiative to eliminate slavery in Brazil. We understand this initiative is still in the early stages of implementation. The assassination of these three auditor fiscales will deter others from taking any further actions to end slavery unless those responsible are identified and brought to justice. We urge you to act immediately to ensure that an effective investigation is conducted and that other workers are given adequate protection.

As long as those responsible for the murder of these three men remain free, none of the people working on the initiative to end slavery are safe. The Brazilian government must also adopt measures to put an end to all acts of violence against human rights defenders.

Please advise LRWC, by mail, e-mail or fax, of the actions that you are taking in relation to the matters discussed above. LRWC awaits your response.