IACHR Press Office
Washington D.C.- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) requested that the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (I/A Court H.R.) grant provisional measures to protect the rights to life, personal integrity, and health of members of the Yanomami, Ye`kwana, and Munduruku indigenous peoples, who are in an extremely serious and urgent situation of irreparable harm to their rights in Brazil due to the presence of unauthorized individuals who illegally exploit natural resources in their territories.
The Yanomami and Ye`kwana peoples are composed of 26,000 indigenous people, who inhabit the Yanomami territory, while in the Munduruku people there are 14,000 indigenous people in seven lands: Munduruku, Sai Cinza, Kayabi, Praia do Indio, and Praia do Mangue reserves, Sawre Muybu, and Sawre Bapin. In 2020, the Inter-American Commission granted them precautionary measures, in accordance with Article 25 of the IACHR Rules of Procedure, due to the serious and urgent risk they faced in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the time the precautionary measures have been in force, the IACHR received information about the exponential increase in the presence of unauthorized third parties on their lands, who mainly carried out mining and logging activities. In this context, it was observed that the Yanomami, Ye`kwana, and Munduruku Indigenous peoples are exposed to murders, threats, violent attacks, sexual rape, and health effects because of the spread of diseases such as malaria and COVID-19, in a context of poor medical care and alleged mercury contamination, which derives from mining.
The information provided indicates that acts of violence, killings, and threats continue in indigenous communities, and even worsen. In this scenario, the IACHR observed the following: 1. a high level of reported violence; 2. frequent use of firearms and armed attacks; 3. possible retaliatory events; 4. death threats against indigenous people; 5. the materialization of irreparable harm, with injuries and death of indigenous people; and 6. effects on the lives and integrity of indigenous children, as well as women and girls who have been victims of sexual violence.
The Brazilian State sent information on the protection measures adopted, such as the preparation of projects and action plans; sending of medical supplies; withdrawal operations of third parties and mining; among others. The Commission appreciates the measures implemented by the State, while noting that, given the worsening of the reported threatening events, these are insufficient. After almost two years that the precautionary measures have been in force, there is no information that the actions taken by the State effectively protect the Indigenous Peoples proposed as beneficiaries.
In addition, the Commission took into account the internal judicial decisions, such as that of the Supreme Federal Court, the highest judicial instance of Brazil, through the Argument of Breach of Fundamental Precept 709 (ADP 709), which determines the protection of indigenous peoples, and notes the risk posed by the presence of unauthorized third parties in the territories.
Despite the follow-up carried out by the IACHR for the effective implementation of protection measures for the Yanomami, Ye`kwana, and Munduruku Indigenous Peoples, such as the request for information from the parties, the holding of a working meeting and a public hearing in the 178th and 180th Sessions, respectively, the situation presenting a risk has worsened and triggered serious acts of violence, which continue over time.
In these circumstances, the Commission considers that the rights of the members of the Yanomami, Ye`kwana, and Munduruku Indigenous Peoples are at extreme and urgent risk of irreparable harm. Based on this and in accordance with Article 63(2) of the American Convention and Article 27 of the Rules of Procedure of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the IACHR requests that the IACHR grant provisional measures and order that the State of Brazil protect the proposed beneficiaries.
In particular, the Commission urges the Court to request that the State of Brazil:
Moreover, the Inter-American Commission requests that the Court carry out an on-site visit in order to verify the situation of these Indigenous Peoples.
The Inter-American Court orders provisional measures in cases of extreme gravity and urgency to avoid irreparable damage to persons. These measures are enforced upon the States, and the decisions therein require that States adopt specific actions to protect the rights and/or ensure the lives of threatened individuals or groups.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.