Two years after reporter’s murder in the Amazon, RSF deplores slowness of Brazilian justice

Two years after British journalist Dom Phillips’ murder in the Brazilian Amazon, neither the perpetrators nor instigators have been brought to justice and the  protective measures demanded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) following the murder have yet to be implemented. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Brazilian authorities to finally render justice for this appalling crime and to guarantee the safety of journalists in the region.

Acesse o relatório do balanço das medidas cautelares apresentado pela RSF e organizações parceiras no dia 5 de junho de 2024.

Phillips, a reporter specialising in the Amazon and environmental issues, and Bruno Pereira, a Brazilian specialist in the protection of his country’s indigenous peoples, disappeared on 5 June 2022 while visiting the Javari Valley in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, near the borders of Peru and Colombia. Their dismembered and burned bodies were found a few days later, buried in a marshy area on the banks of the Itacoaí River. 

RSF and nine partner organisations have been advocating ever since for measures to ensure that this double murder does not go unpunished and that such tragedies do not recur. A mechanism involving the Brazilian authorities, the IACHR and civil society has been set up in the Amazon to monitor implementation of the precautionary measures sought by the IACHR. 

This monitoring mechanism, in which RSF is a participant, began working six months ago and it is clear that the Brazilian judicial system has made little progress. The perpetrators and presumed instigator still have not been brought to justice. And the threats to journalists in the Amazon are still palpable. RSF has registered 85 cases of obstruction of journalists’ work in the region since Phillips’ murder.

“On this sad anniversary for environmental journalism in the Amazon, RSF calls on the Brazilian authorities to do everything possible to ensure that all those involved in Dom Phillips’ death are brought to justice. Implementation of all of the various precautionary measures requested by the IACHR is also badly needed. As a stakeholder in the monitoring mechanism, RSF expects better cooperation by Brazil with international organisations and civil society to ensure safer conditions for journalism. Brazil cannot allow the Amazon to become a lawless region where journalists must risk their lives to cover environmental issues.

Artur Romeu
Director of RSF’s Latin America bureau

Justice going nowhere 

Two years after this barbaric crime, the justice system is going nowhere. Three poaching fishermen have been charged with the double murder and four members of their family have been charged with helping to conceal the bodies. But none has yet been tried. Their trial was postponed for the second time to April, without a new date being set. The alleged instigator, the head of an illegal fishing and hunting ring, was charged a year after the murders, as was his right-hand man, but they have yet to be formally indicted. Furthermore, contrary to what the federal police currently say, Phillips cannot be regarded as just a collateral victim since he was carrying out investigative reporting on illegal activities in the region. 

Scorched lands of journalism in the Amazon

On 11 December 2023, the monitoring mechanism began formulating an action plan to protect journalists in the Amazon and prevent any recurrence of the events that led to the double murder. It includes measures to reinforce the programme for protecting media personnel, better investigation protocols for crimes against the media, and measures to promote the importance of journalism in the region. 

Journalists have continued to be subjected to repeated obstruction in the Amazon since the double murder. The 85 press freedom violations registered by RSF include physical violence, armed attacks, death threats, theft of equipment and judicial harassment. Many of the victims were covering local politics and environmental issues. 

In September 2023, RSF published a report entitled Scorched lands of journalism in the Amazon detailing the obstacles that reporters face in the Brazilian Amazon and highlighting the urgent need for action by the authorities.

82/ 180
Score : 58.59
Published on