Skip to main content

Brazil: Violence against Journalists and Activists

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 21 June 2022

8. What recent assessment she has made of trends in the level of violence against journalists, environmental campaigners and indigenous activists in Brazil. (900626)

I start by reflecting on the very sad disappearance of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in the Amazon region of Brazil. Our thoughts are with their families. I offer thanks to all those involved in the search and rescue operation that was trying to find them. I pay tribute to both men and their commitment to improving our understanding of the Amazon, to its peoples and to the challenges currently faced there. Both men have left a strong legacy of defending and supporting the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

Attacks on environmental activists and indigenous rights defenders in Brazil have increased in recent years, and we raise that regularly with the Government.

I thank the Minister for that response and I echo her comments about the tragic killings of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, but they are not alone. In 2020, at least 182 indigenous activists and 20 environmental campaigners were killed in Brazil. It is the relentless drive to develop the Amazon rainforest that is behind these murders. What are the Government doing to put maximum pressure on the Bolsonaro Government to reverse that trend, but also to reduce our complicity in this through our supply chains and the involvement of British companies in financing this?

We regularly engage with indigenous leaders and civil society organisations. We are in regular contact with Brazil’s national foundation for indigenous people. We are absolutely committed to defending and promoting the human rights of all and we continue to monitor very closely developments around indigenous rights in Brazil and raise concerns with the Government. We have already committed £259 million to help protect the Amazon, with £3 billion more of further funding committed at COP. We have also made it clear that trade should not be at the expense of the environment, climate commitments or, indeed, the concerns that the hon. Lady raises.

It is thanks to journalists and environmentalists such as Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira that record deforestation, mining and logging, predatory fishing and drug trafficking have been exposed. Dom and Bruno were not on some travel adventure in Brazil, as has been suggested; like others who have been killed over the years, they were doing their job to report on the environmental damage taking place in Brazil that ultimately impacts on us all.

Will the Government work with other international authorities to have the case investigated in a swift, transparent and independent manner, without any interference—not just to seek justice for the families of Dom and Bruno, but to protect future journalists and environmentalists in their important work?

My hon. Friend is right that the case should be investigated. We are grateful to the Brazilian authorities for their help and engagement to date. There has been very close contact between, for example, the local and national police with our embassy team on the ground. It is really important that those who committed this heinous crime are held to account.

I put on the record my condolences to the family of Lancaster-born Dom Phillips. What steps is the Department taking to support Dom’s family through diplomatic means at this difficult time?

We have been in close contact with members of Dom’s family. We will continue to give consular support to them at this time and through the next processes related to this tragic event.