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Brazil: PEN Centres in The Americas and Caribbean condemn the killing of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira and demand justice

jeudi 23 juin 2022 - 2:18pm

PEN International and PEN Centres in Latin America are shocked and deeply saddened by the killing of British journalist Dom Philips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in Vale do Javari, Amazonas, Brazil, and urge the Brazilian authorities to bring all those responsible to justice.

The identity of the bodies was confirmed on 17 June 2022 (see PEN action on 16 June). According to forensic reports by the Brazilian Federal Police, the journalist was shot in the chest and the indigenous expert was shot in different parts of his body, including in the head. The Brazilian authorities said investigators are working to determine the cause of the deaths. Three men have been arrested in connection with the crime, with one confessing to murder. Another five people are wanted by the authorities.

We stand in solidarity with the families and friends of Philips and Pereira and urge the Brazilian authorities to carry out a prompt, transparent and independent investigation into the killings. We also call on the authorities to break the vicious cycle of impunity by bringing those responsible to justice.

We further deplore Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro’s public speeches, which claimed that the victims went to the Amazon region knowing the risks they would be facing. On 15 June, Bolsonaro described Philips as "frowned upon in the region" for "reporting against miners". He also described his work as an "excursion".

Phillips was working on a book about sustainable development entitled How to Save the Amazon, and Pereira, who had close contacts with local indigenous groups, was helping him with interviews.

We condemn the position of Brazil’s President, who is attempting to shift responsibility away from the Brazilian authorities. Bolsonaro should publicly condemn the ongoing attacks against journalists, human rights defenders and environmentalists, and do everything in their power to protect them from harm.

According to reports from various non-governmental organisations, Brazil has seen rising deforestation as a result of illegal mining and logging, predatory fishing and drug trafficking in indigenous territories. Abraji, Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism, reported a 200% increase in attacks against the press between 2019 and 2020.

We demand justice and accountability for the death of Dom Philips and Bruno Pereira. We urge the Brazilian authorities to prevent and protect journalists, human rights defenders and environmentalists against threats and violence, and end impunity for such crimes.

Signatories