Historic working group to investigate British journalist’s murder in Brazilian Amazon

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is creating a working group on the precautionary measures it requested from the Brazilian state in the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenous specialist Bruno Araújo Pereira. Assisted by NGOs such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF), it will monitor the investigations into these murders and the adoption of better safety measures for journalists and environmental defenders in the Amazon.

The IACHR, which has followed the cases of Phillips and Pereira ever since they were murdered while investigating illegal fishing in the Amazon in June 2022, announced the working group’s creation on 11 August.

It will monitor the actions taken in response to the IACHR’s requests for protective measures and work to ensure that the murders are brought to justice. There is an urgent need to guarantee the safety of the journalists and human rights defenders and all others who worked with Phillips and Pereira – including the members of Union of Indigenous Organisations of the Javari Valley (UNIVAJA) – as they are still threatened.

“This working group is a historic opportunity for journalists' organisations to work with the Brazilian government to develop concrete measures for the safety of reporters and human rights defenders in the Amazon. These measures will then be implemented by the Brazilian state. This is the first time that Brazil has given such an undertaking. As well as pursuit of the investigations into those responsible for the murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira, the national and international effects of this cooperation could be decisive and exemplary in terms of defending the right to report news and information.

Artur Romeu
Director of RSF’s Latin America bureau

Approved at a meeting on 31 July, the creation of this working group is the result of a joint proposal by the Brazilian state, the organisations including RSF that petitioned the IACHR in connection with the case, and the beneficiaries. The IACHR special rapporteur on freedom of expression will assist its work, alongside federal agencies and government ministries.

The civil society organisations that requested precautionary measures from the IACHR in 2022 and will be around the table alongside RSF are Article 19, the Regional Alliance for Freedom of Expression and Information, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (ABRAJI), the Vladimir Herzog Institute, the Tornavoz Institute, the Observatory for the Human Rights of Isolated and Recently Contacted Indigenous Peoples, UNIVAJA and the Washington Bureau in Brazil.

During the next two months, the working group will elaborate an action plan for faster and more transparent investigations into the murders of Phillips and Pereira, and measures designed to end the human rights violations in the Javari Valley. The Brazilian state will then have two years to implement the action plan under the supervision of the IACHR, which will make a monitoring visit every six months.


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