Press Release

IACHR Expresses Concern over Increase in Rural Violence in Brazil

May 1, 2017

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001

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Washington, D.C.—The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) expresses its concern regarding the nine campesinos who were killed on April 19, 2017, in the context of land conflicts in the rural municipality of Colniza, in the Taquarazú del Norte region of Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Accounts indicate that the nine victims, who were killed by hooded assailants, were adult men whose bodies showed signs of violence and torture. Some of the victims had been tied up and decapitated. According to publicly available information, the Brazilian authorities traveled to the scene—a remote, hard-to-reach area—and are conducting the relevant investigations.

According to records kept by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB), 19 individuals have been killed so far this year in five states in Brazil due to the conflict in the countryside. This is in addition to the 61 killings related to land disputes in 2016. The number of people who have received death threats in this context has increased by 39 percent, from 144 in 2015 to 200 in 2016. There has also been an increase in the number of people who have been victims of physical violence, from 187 in 2015 to 571 in 2016—an increase of 205 percent. This violence is concentrated in Brazil’s northern and northeastern states.
The IACHR calls on the authorities to continue investigating these incidents and other acts of violence against landless peasants or settlers, with due diligence, to identify and punish those responsible and thus combat impunity and prevent a repetition of similar incidents. The IACHR also urges the Brazilian State to address the structural causes related to the conflicts tied to the struggle for land reform.

The IACHR also expresses its deep concern over the serious problem faced by tens of thousands of families in the countryside who, year after year, are dislocated from the lands they inhabit or occupy. According to the CPT, there has been an increase in the number of families expelled from the territories where they live, from 795 in 2015 to 2,639 in 2016—an increase of 232 percent. The CPT report also indicates that 12,829 families were evicted by court order in 2016, and that another 31,278 families are at risk of going through the same situation.

The IACHR urges the State of Brazil to design and implement immediate and sustainable measures to solve this serious problem, applying international standards regarding internal displacement. Along these lines, the IACHR urges Brazil to adopt a legal framework based on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The IACHR also notes that in these types of situations, the Brazilian State has the obligation to adopt measures to prevent displacement, provide protection and assistance to displaced persons during their displacement, offer and facilitate humanitarian assistance, and facilitate lasting solutions.

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 respect for 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.

No. 057/17