Sem categoria

Dossier points out that human rights defenders in Brazil are at risk and are not adequately protected by the State

  • Date : 7 de December de 2020

To be released on December 8th, a report by an articulation of social organizations highlights the State’s role in inciting violence against defenders of the rights of women, the black population, the LGBTQI population, traditional peoples, and the environment

Individuals, communities, and groups defending human rights in Brazil and acting to stop rights violations are not adequately protected by the Brazilian State. This is one of the denouncements reported in the Dossier of the Brazilian Committee of Human Rights Defenders (Comitê Brasileiro de Defensoras e Defensores de Direitos Humanos – CBDDH) to be released on December 8th. The report elaborates on the period between 2018 and the first semester of 2020. 

In this third edition, the articulation comprised of 42 national organizations, popular movements, and associations brings a systematization of the violations of rights of those who defend human rights, as well as reflects upon the structural causes that result in even more intense violence against men and women who defend women, the black and LGBTQI populations, and traditional peoples. The increase in violence against environmental activists also receives attention. 

As pointed out by the Dossier, the National Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders in Brazil (Programa Nacional de Proteção às Defensoras e Defensores de Direitos Humanos no Brasil – PNPDDH), which is the fruit of popular claims, was established in 2004 and implemented after the murder of the missionary Dorothy Stang in 2005. However, it suffers from execution discontinuities and its expansion is not significant. The Program is currently active only in the states of Minas Gerais, Pernambuco, Ceará, Maranhão, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, and through a Federal Team, which serves the other 20 states and the Federal District. According to the Committee, the 2018 budgetary leap did not result in the effective implementation of the Program in more states or led to an effective improvement in the protection of threatened people and groups.  

Another relevant factor is that the permanent incitement to violence by President Jair Bolsonaro (No Party) and his base against specific population segments – women, press professionals, indigenous peoples, quilombolas, and others – fosters an environment of violence legitimization by the population against these groups, and insecurity by the part of rights defenders regarding their inclusion in a Protection Program carried out by a government which is contrary to the affirmation of rights of these populations. 

“Nowadays, we have at the front of the executive power a government which is openly against the fight for rights, a president that when elected promised to ‘end every form of activism’, besides publicly offending indigenous and quilombola peoples, and declaring to be an enemy of civil society organizations”, highlights Milena Argenta, the advisor of the Feminist Studies and Consulting Center (Centro Feminista de Estudos e Assessoria – Cfemea), a member organization of the Committee. 

Milena, one of the organizers of the report even highlights that violence against women rights defenders presents some particularities. Besides the risks due to denouncements regarding the activities of violating agents – companies, deed-falsifiers (grileiros), large landowners, the State itself, and militias – the most frequent violence against women defenders and their families are related to sexual violence, invisibilization and delegitimization of their activities in public spaces. 

“Women defenders particularly suffer from an even worse process of defamation, since they subvert the patriarchal order which restricts their existence to the domestic space and to reproductive and care works, whether of their own families or families of the white elite, which is maintained up to the present by exploring the domestic work of black women”, she highlights. 

The Dossier also seeks to make violations of rights visible and value the action of those who defend human rights in the country. “The visibility of this violence has been a very important action because they seek to combat the stigmatization suffered by people who fight for their rights and who are often accused of being outlaws or committing illegal actions by simply defending their rights. To break the walls of misinformation is an important weapon so that the violence lived is known”, highlights the researcher from Justiça Global who is also one of the organizers of the Dossier, Antônio Neto, 

Current realities for men and women human rights defenders in Brazil 

– The structural problems are the main responsible for the violence suffered by men and women human rights defenders in Brazil, such as the lack of demarcation of indigenous lands and quilombola territories, the non-realization of agrarian and urban reform, big ventures, land and forest mercantilization, racism, sexism, and LGBTQphobia. 

– With record numbers of fires and deforestation in the years of 2019 and 2020 (an increase of 9.5% in deforestation compared to 2019 – Inpe), people who reside in these biomes and environment defenders are obstacles to the exploration model.

– From January 2019 to August 2020 at least 449 statements and attacks against journalists and communicators were made by the President of the Republic, his Ministers, or elected family members. (Data from Artigo 19)

– In the first eight months of 2020 only, murders of trans people have increased by 70% if compared to the same period in the previous year, representing 129 murders in total. Among this group, a significant part was reference persons in the LGBTQI movement. (Data from Antra).

– During the pandemic, most victims of Covid-19 were black people (42.4%). There was an increase in feminicide in every state. Indigenous and quilombola peoples also suffer from the lack of integrated actions by the State.

– According to the data from the Zero Eviction (Despejo Zero) campaign, between March 1st and August 31st, 2020, more than 6 thousand Brazilian families were evicted.

– The homeless population numbers 220 thousand people in March 2020, an increase of 140% in relation to 2012. (Data from IPEA).

– The homicide rate among black youth is almost four times higher than among whites. In this context, the mothers of the murdered and popular communicators are defenders at high risk. 

– Men and women defenders of traditional territories are the targets of actions by ventures and land fraud. One example is the number of 108 processes seeking the mineral exploration of indigenous lands in the Amazon. (Data from Agência Pública).

– Women defenders are more susceptible to sexual violence, physical assaults in the private sphere, violence against their family members, online exposure, and public silencing. 

– The total amount of conflicts in 2019 was 23% higher than in 2018. Conflicts related to land disputes have increased by 11.5% and to water by 77%. (Data from CPT).


The Struggling Lives Dossier – criminalization and violence against men and women human rights defenders in Brazil (Volume III) will be released next Tuesday (December 8th) during an online debate broadcast by the social networks of the Committee and member organizations. 


Facebook page:

:: Access the Struggling Lives Dossier here