By Renata Oliveira, Former Front Line Defenders Research & Training Fellow for the Americas
At the end of April, my last activity with Front Line Defenders was to accompany Brazilian human rights defender and indigenous leader Tonico Benites to Brussels. Tonico had the chance to meet with several policymakers and diplomats to discuss the challenges faced by indigenous persons in Brazil, particularly his group, the Guarani-Kaiowás. As a Brazilian who comes from a state that has practically decimated its native population, I thought I already knew how bad the situation was. However, Tonico’s first-hand testimony about the persecution of his people shocked me.
By Mary Lawlor
According to the Brazilian Committee of Human Rights Defenders, at least 24 human rights defenders (HRDs) have been killed in the first four months of 2016. This places Brazil at the top of the list of killings of HRDs reported to Front Line Defenders this year. The Committee, formed by several NGOs and civil society representatives, has denounced this escalation of violence to the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation of American States (OAS), highlighting the fact that that violence against HRDs includes death threats, harassment, stigmatisation, the undue use of the judicial system against HRDs, surveillance and even murder.