IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Boa Hora III/Marmorana Quilombola Community in Maranhão, Brazil

March 1, 2023

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 10/2023 on February 27, 2023, to grant precautionary measures in favor of members of the traditional Quilombola Afro-descendant community Boa Hora III/Marmorana in the Brazilian state of Maranhão, in the belief that they face a risk of suffering irreparable harm to their rights.

According to the party who requested these precautionary measures, there are currently approximately 136 residents in the Boa Hora III/Marmorana Quilombola territory, which has been inhabited for more than 100 years and has been recognized as a Quilombola territory by the Palmares Cultural Foundation since 2007. This community lives off family farming and off gathering fruits, particularly babassu coconuts.

The party who requested these precautionary measures said the territory's titling process has been pending since 2006, which is causing disputes with local estate owners who also claim possession of that land. Recently, one estate owner allegedly masterminded the occupation of a portion of the territory, tore down residents' homes, besieged the community's crops, and prevented access to the community's natural source of drinking water. This attack was reportedly perpetrated by armed men who are allegedly still keeping watch over locals' activities and threatening the beneficiaries of these precautionary measures.

The State reported that it had taken several measures to address these allegations. It said that it had deployed the Military Police to investigate these events on site and that it had met with the community's representatives. The State further said that a Maranhão state government team had visited the community and that three of the community's leaders had been included in the state of Maranhão's Protection Program for Human Rights Defenders. The State said that the measures that had been taken were proving effective and that there were constitutional, legislative, administrative, and judicial mechanisms in place to prevent violence.

The Commission welcomed the action taken by the State, but noted beneficiaries' vulnerability and the fact that risk factors persisted, as shown by the continued presence of armed attackers, the persistence of intimidation, and the lack of State-sponsored collective protection measures. The Commission has also not received information about the course of investigations of the various acts of violence allegedly suffered by beneficiaries since 2015.

In keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR therefore decided to grant these precautionary measures and asked the State of Brazil to:

  1. Adopt—with the required ethnic-racial perspective—any culturally appropriate measures necessary to protect the rights to life and humane treatment of members of the Boa Hora III/Marmorana Quilombola community (in particular, the State needs both to ensure that its officers will respect beneficiaries' rights, in compliance with the standards of international human rights law, and to protect those rights from dangerous acts that may be perpetrated by third parties)
  2. Come to an agreement with the beneficiaries and/or their representatives concerning any measures that need to be taken
  3. Report on any actions implemented to investigate the events that gave rise to the adoption of these precautionary measures, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

The fact that these precautionary measures have been granted and their adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

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 and to defend 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. 033/23

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