IACHR Announces Publication of Report No. 136/21 on Fazenda Ubá Case, Concerning Brazil

August 9, 2021

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Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announced its decision to approve and publish the friendly settlement on Case 12.277, Fazenda Ubá, concerning Brazil, which was signed on July 19, 2010, between the State of Brazil and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), the organization representing the victims.

On May 4, 2000, the IACHR received a petition presented by CEJIL that alleged that the Federative Republic of Brazil was internationally responsible for the violation of the human rights to life, judicial guarantees, and judicial protection, which are protected by the American Convention on Human Rights, to the detriment of eight rural workers, including a pregnant woman. The victims were allegedly murdered by a group of armed men on June 13, 1985, during a rural eviction process in the area of the Fazenda Ubá, a farm in São João de Araguaia municipality in the State of Pará.

On July 19, 2010, the parties signed a friendly settlement agreement in which the Brazilian State acknowledged its international responsibility for the violation of the rights to life, judicial protection, and judicial guarantees to the detriment of rural workers João Evangelista Vilarins, Francisco Ferreira Alves, Januário Ferreira Lima, Luis Carlos Pereira de Souza, Francisca de Tal, José Pereira da Silva, Valdemar Alves de Almeida, and Nelson Ribeiro.

In the agreement, concrete measures were established to guarantee reparation for material and moral damage to these victims' families, including the payment of economic reparation, public acknowledgment of responsibility, and a public apology ceremony; judicial measures to prosecute and try those involved in the events; a civil action lawsuit brought by the State Public Defender's Office against the perpetrators of the crime; a monument in memory of the events and the victims; the effective inclusion of the victims' family in aid and education projects and access to rural settlements; and the adoption of measures of non-repetition, among others.

The IACHR monitored this friendly settlement process closely and praised the two parties for the efforts they made during the negotiations toward reaching an agreement that would be compatible with the objectives and ends of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. Likewise, the IACHR commended both parties for their willingness to move toward settling this issue through nonadversarial means.

With regard to the degree of compliance with the agreement, in its report, the IACHR assessed the progress made on each of the clauses and decided to declare full compliance with clauses 5 (ceremony to acknowledge international responsibility), 6 (publication of the friendly settlement agreement), 11 (compensation), 12 (waiver of statute of limitations), 16 (bill for compensation), 20 (agrarian ombud offices), and 21 (incentives for the work of the State Commission on Land Conflicts). Likewise, the IACHR decided to declare substantial partial compliance with clauses 13 (legal pension for life) and 17 (inclusion in state programs and projects) and partial compliance with clauses 8 and 9 (criminal and civil prosecution), 18 (access to rural settlements), 22 (training), and 23 (follow-up mechanism). Finally, the IACHR deemed that compliance was pending with clauses 10 (monument) and 19 (construction of an information center).

Consequently, the IACHR deemed that substantial partial implementation had been achieved for this friendly settlement agreement and decided to continue monitoring the aspects of the agreement that have not yet been fully complied with until these are effectively implemented.

The IACHR congratulated the State of Brazil on its efforts to develop public policy on friendly settlements and alternative forms of dispute resolution. It invited the State to continue using the friendly settlement mechanism in cases concerning the country that are currently being processed through the petition and case system. It also wishes to congratulate the petitioning party on the efforts it made to take part in the negotiation and move the implementation of this iconic friendly settlement process forward.

The Friendly Settlement Report No. 136/21 on Case 12.277 is available here.

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. 206/21

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