Re: Assassination of Mr. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Mrs. Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva.
To: President Dilma Vana Rousseff
From: Vicheka Lay, LRWC Member
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is deeply concerned to learn that on May 24, 2011, Mr. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Mrs. Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva were ambushed and shot to death near Nova Ipixuna, in Pará State.
It is apparent from the information reviewed that José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva were assassinated in reprisal for their opposition to the ruination of the rainforest through illegal logging and charcoal production and their advocacy for sustainable use of forest resources. They were members of the National Council of Extractive Populations (Conselho Nacional das Populações Extrativistas – CNS) and leaders of the Agro-extractive Project Praialta-Piranheira (Projeto Agroextrativista Praialta-Piranheira) in Nova Ipixuna, in Pará State. Both had received and reported death threats related to their work and expressed fear that the threats would be carried out.
Given these facts, LRWC is concerned that these assassinations likely would have been prevented had José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva been part of the National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders (Programa Nacional de Proteçaõ aos Defensores de Direitos Humanos – PPDDH).
These assassinations indicate that Brazil has failed to comply with the Declaration on Human Rights Defender, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998.
Article 9 (1) and (2) of the Declaration state:
(1) In the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights.
(2)To this end, everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law and to obtain from such an authority a decision, in accordance with law, providing redress, including any compensation due, where there has been a violation of that person’s rights or freedoms, as well as enforcement of the eventual decision and award, all without undue delay.
Article 12.2 stipulates: “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
The Declaration on Human Rights Defenders further requires the Brazilian government to conduct a prompt, impartial and effective investigation of the shocking threats made against the victims.
Failure to protect and investigate violations of the rights of Mr. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Mrs. Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva constitutes an egregious breach of Brazil’s duties under binding international laws and principles.
LRWC respectfully urges your government to act in accordance with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the international and regional pacts and covenants ratified by Brazil. The duty to ensure the implementation of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders, and the Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Execution arises from Brazil’s membership in both the United Nations (UN) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
LRWC calls for an immediate and thorough investigation into this assassination case, for the results obtained to be made public, and for those responsible to be brought to justice. LRWC also calls upon the government of Brazil to take swift and effective action to ensure the security of all human rights defenders so they can continue to carry out their legitimate and important work defending human rights.
Further, LRWC requests a response indicating how it was that Mr. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Mrs. Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva were not receiving the protection of the National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders.
LRWC awaits your reply to these various issues. Thank you for your attention to our concerns.