This page summarizes cases raised with Brazil by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2017 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from Brazil.
Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.
Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).
Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of Brazil, English).
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Brazil for its response to his communication of 5 July 2012, but regrets that it did not respond to the other communications. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, and urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerns raised in his communications.
The Special Rapporteur remains deeply disturbed by the killings of Messrs. Almir Nogueira de Amorim and João Luiz Telles Penetra. He stresses the utmost importance to investigate thoroughly these killings, and hold the perpetrators fully accountable. He requests the Government to keep him informed on the progress made into the investigations conducted in relation to the aforementioned case.
The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to take all relevant measures to ensure that any individual and legal entity, including those promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights, can peacefully exercise their rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He recommends that the Government put in place an enabling and safe environment allowing individuals to exercise their legitimate freedoms without undue hindrances. A thorough and independent investigation into any allegations of any human rights violations, including acts of intimidations or harassments, committed against those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, should be conducted; those responsible should be held accountable; and victims should be provided with full redress.
The Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 21/16, and in particular operative paragraph 1 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law”.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Brazil for the detailed reply received to one of the communications sent during the reporting period. However, he regrets that four communications remained without a response, at the time of writing this report. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, and urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerns raised in his communications.
The Special Rapporteur expresses deep concern at the reported continuous climate of violence and pressure against those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, which includes acts of intimidations and harassments against associations, social movements and indigenous communities defending environmental and land-related rights.
While recognizing the steps taken by the Government to engage in participatory and informed consultation process with civil society activists, as outlined in the Government’s response dated 16 September 2013, the Special Rapporteur urges the Government of Brazil to conduct prompt and thorough investigations in each case, prosecute perpetrators, and provide adequate reparation to victims.
The Special Rapporteur recommends that the Government of Brazil put in place an enabling and safe environment allowing individuals to exercise their legitimate freedoms of peaceful assembly and association without undue hindrances. He reiterates the content of the operative paragraph 2 of the Human Rights Council Resolution 24/5 that “[r] reminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law.”
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Brazil for the detailed reply to the communication sent on 4 April 2014, indicating that reports of excessive use of force by law enforcement officials during public gatherings were met with numerous measures aimed at investigating and punishing perpetrators as well as strengthening capacity-building and oversight mechanisms (BRA 3/2014). However, he regrets that the Government of Brazil has not replied to the communication on 25 August 2014 and urges it to provide a detailed response to the questions raised in his letter (BRA 7/2014), in conformity with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010).
Management of peaceful protests
The Special Rapporteur takes note of the training received by the police forces and the initiatives to improve the work of law enforcement officials including a course on the proportionate use of force. While he recognizes the steps taken by the Government to investigate the death of a media worker killed during a protest as well as to ensure the release of two other individuals (when the criteria for determining legality of their arrest was not met), he expresses concern at the reported prosecution of a large number of individuals involved ? in peaceful protests (BRA 3/2014). The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of its obligation to facilitate peaceful protests and is of the opinion that the presumption in favour of the right to peaceful assembly does not cease as a result of sporadic violence or other punishable acts committed by certain individuals in the course of a demonstration (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 25).
The Special Rapporteur remains disturbed by allegations of excessive use of force by the police against peaceful protestors in a series of assemblies and at the allegations of mass arrests of individuals aimed at intimidating critics and discouraging participation in public demonstrations ((BRA 7/2014). He remains troubled by the arrests of individuals known for monitoring unlawful arrests during peaceful protests and the confiscation and damage to media equipment of journalists. He recalls the important monitoring role played by observers and media and notes that attacks against such individuals should be promptly and thoroughly investigated.
Laws regulating peaceful protest and association
The Special Rapporteur reiterates his concerns regarding law 6528/13 that provides for the detention of demonstrators wearing masks as well as draft law 5.964/13 that prohibits any means that prevent the identification of protestors, which may result in additional limitations to the right to peaceful assembly. Such measures could be used to target particular groups using such items or masks for legitimate reasons, including to identify fellow demonstrators, to make a political statement or out of fear of retribution. He recalls that security considerations should not be used as a justification for the adoption of stricter rules that annul the right to freedom of peaceful assembly (A/HRC/26/29 paragraph 33).
Regarding the possibility of investigations under law No. 12.850, on Criminal Organizations, which would allow the Prosecutor General to access information on individuals under investigation or infiltrate into the alleged criminal organization to obtain evidence, the Special Rapporteur acknowledges that the aim of the legislation is to regulate the activities of criminal organizations. However, he remains concerned about its potential to unduly interfere with, or curb, the rights to association or assembly. He requests the Government to keep him informed on the progress made into the investigations of the alleged infiltration of the Xingu Vivo organization by agent investigating their legitimate activities.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Brazil for the reply to his communication sent on 28 October 2015. The Special Rapporteur regrets that the Government of Brazil has yet not replied to the communication BRA 2/2015 and urges the authorities to provide a detailed response to the questions raised in this letter, in conformity with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010).
The Special Rapporteur takes note of the steps undertaken by the authorities to implement measures against terrorism. According to the Brazilian Government, the recent legislation is only a continuation of its previous policy and is applied legitimately according to international standards and has therefore no link with the World Cup in 2014, as well as the upcoming 2016 Olympic Games.
However, the Special Rapporteur remains concerned at the possible misuse of anti-terrorism legislation to curb freedoms of peaceful assembly and association in the country. Although the Special Rapporteur is aware that States have an interest in protecting national security or public safety, and the fight against terrorism which are legitimate grounds for restricting freedom of association, he calls on the Government of Brazil to ensure that any restrictions on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are prescribed by law, which is necessary in a democratic society, and proportionate to the objective pursued, and do not harm the principles of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness. Therefore, any restrictions should be subject to an independent, impartial, and prompt judicial review (A/HRC/20/27, paragraph 84 (d) and (e)).
On different occasions, the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism has stressed in a report to the General Assembly that “States should not need to resort to derogation measures in the area of freedom of assembly and association. Instead, limitation measures, as provided for in ICCPR, are sufficient in an effective fight against terrorism” (A/61/267, para. 53).
Moreover, he reaffirms that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are necessary elements for the possible emergence and sustainability of effective democratic systems. In this regard, States should therefore make every effort to facilitate those rights.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government for the information provided in its letter received on 21 February 2017. The Rapporteur takes note of the efforts deployed by Brazilian authorities to protect human rights defenders, including the National Policy for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (PNPDDH) and the National Program for the Protection of the Human Rights Defenders (PPDDH). He considers these measures to be positive steps towards the achievement of the goals and principles set forth in the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. He also takes note that the cases referenced in the communication were reported to the Special Secretariat for human rights and to the PPDH. He understands that a high number of allegations were contained in the communication sent but he nevertheless expects to receive comprehensive information regarding the specific cases mentioned, including further detail regarding those referenced in the answer provided by the authorities.
Environment in which these rights are exercised
The Special Rapporteur reiterates his concerns at the numerous cases of human rights violations against human rights defenders, including continued threats, including deaths threats, and other forms of intimidation and harassment. In particular, land rights, environmental and indigenous defenders seem to be particularly targeted. Additional concern is reiterated at the apparent laxness of Brazilian authorities failing to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and those who claim their rights and lacking due diligence regarding the implementation of proper investigation into these killings, which hinders access to justice for victims and their relatives, and prevents accountability of perpetrators.
The Rapporteur recalls that a positive environment that allows and promotes the rights of all people to freely associate and assemble is essential in the context of exploitation of natural resources to ensure a fair, transparent and accountable process that benefits all the parties involved (A/HRC/29/25, paragraph 67).
For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links: