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International Community Should Push for Results in Curbing Deforestation, Protecting Rights

As fires rage in the Brazilian Amazon, environment minister Joaquim Leite announced that the government has doubled the budget for environmental law enforcement and will recruit 700 new enforcement agents.  Leite presented these measures as…
Fires near Novo Progresso, Brazil on August 23, 2020, burned land deforested by cattle farmers.
News

Proposal a Major Setback to Land Rights Recognition

(São Paulo, August 24, 2021) – Brazil’s Congress should reject a bill that would prevent or hinder many Indigenous peoples from claiming their right to traditional lands, violating their rights under international law, Human Rights Watch said…
Indigenous people protest against a bill on the demarcation of indigenous land, on the roof of the National Congress, on June 8 2021, in Brasilia, Brazil. Photo: Mateus Bonomi/AGIF (via AP)
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International Funding Largely Depends on Reducing Deforestation, Protecting Rights

(São Paulo) – The governors of Brazilian Amazon states should take immediate measures to deliver on their pledges to curb illegal deforestation, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The success of the governors’ efforts to secure…
Governors and vice-governors of Brazil’s Amazon states at the 17th Forum of Governors of the Legal Amazon, March 2019
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Civil Society Participation Key to Success at UN Climate Talks

At this month’s virtual climate negotiations several United Nations officials and governments highlighted the importance of civil society participation in climate action. Yet at the summit’s plenary session, time ran out before civil society…
Residents and environmental activists on Lamu island, Kenya, protest the proposed Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia (LAPSSET) project on March 1, 2012.  © 2012 Reuters/Joseph Okanga
News

Brazil Should Deliver Results in Reducing Deforestation and Impunity for Environmental Crime and Violence

Speaking at the Leaders Summit on Climate convened by the United States today, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro insisted he’s committed to protecting the Amazon and even pledged more resources for environmental law enforcement. But since taking office…
Congressmen Jair Bolsonaro e Eduardo Bolsonaro speak with the press, Brasília, June 21, 2016.
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Bolsonaro Policies Fuel Deforestation in Indigenous Lands

(São Paulo, April 12, 2021) – Brazilian federal authorities should immediately remove miners who have unlawfully entered the Munduruku Indigenous territory in the Amazon rainforest, Human Rights Watch said today. Munduruku Indigenous people in the…
A mining site in the Munduruku Indigenous Land registered by Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA, May 2018.
News

Human Rights Watch Letter Detailed Disastrous Policies Fueling Brazil’s Amazon Crisis

On January 27, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) detailing the disastrous impacts of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s environmental policies. The intervention has now…
Presidente Jair Messias Bolsonaro
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Bolsonaro Government Fuels Deforestation, Flouts Climate Commitments

(Brasilia) – Fires resulting from unchecked deforestation are poisoning the air millions of people breathe, affecting health throughout the Brazilian Amazon, the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM), the Institute for Health Policy Studies (…
La ville de Porto Velho, dans l'État de Rondônia en Amazonie occidentale, au Brésil, est submergé par une épaisse couche de fumée dans la matinée du 12 août 2019.
News

Government to Pay US$12 Million in Compensation for Smelter Pollution

In a victory for environmental health, last week, a Kenyan Court awarded $1.3 billion Ksh (USD12 million) to residents of Owino Uhuru, a suburb of Mombasa, for damages related to pollution from a nearby lead smelter that recycled lead-acid batteries.…
News

Establish Benchmarks to Address Violence, Deforestation

(São Paulo) – The European Union-Mercosur trade agreement should not be considered for ratification until Brazil shows it is ready to uphold its commitments in the agreement to protect the Amazon rainforest, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter…
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Bolsonaro Policy Ensures Illegal Logging Goes Unpunished

(São Paulo) – Fines for illegal logging in the Amazon in Brazil have been effectively suspended since October 2019 under a Bolsonaro administration decree, Human Rights Watch said today. Federal enforcement agents have issued thousands of…
In this March 10, 2018 photo released by Ibama, the Brazilian Environmental and Renewable Natural Resources Institute, agents from Ibama measure illegally cut timber from Cachoeira Seca indigenous land in Para state in Brazil's Amazon basin.
News

Lockdown Measures Increase Risks for Women and Girls

For 4 days, Juliet M., a 16-year-old Kenyan, was held captive by a man and sexually assaulted. She was rescued by neighbors and is now being cared for in a safe house in Nairobi. The attacker reportedly said he kidnapped her because he needed…
Kenyans make their way home before the daily dusk-to-dawn curfew in Nairobi, Kenya, April 6, 2020.
News

Violence and Impunity Endanger Climate Change Commitment

(São Paulo) – Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is driven largely by criminal networks that use violence and intimidation against those who try to stop them, and the government is failing to protect both the defenders and the rainforest itself…
Cláudio José da Silva at the bank of the Pindaré river, in the Brazilian Amazon.
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Activists Opposing these Plans have Faced Threats and Harassment

Environmental activists in Kenya scored a unique victory last week. On June 26, the National Environmental Tribunal revoked a license issued to Amu Power Company to establish a controversial coal-fired power plant in Lamu. …
Environmental activists and petitioners listen to a tribunal ruling over the construction of a coal-fired power plant, at the supreme court building in Nairobi, Kenya
News

Defenders Play a ‘Positive, Important and Legitimate’ Role

I met Itahu Ka’apor after a long journey on a rough dirt track into the indigenous territory of Alto Turiaçu, in the Brazilian Amazon. After welcoming me and my colleagues into his community, he spent several days showing us how his…
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84 Killed, 276 Missing in Mining Waste Sludge in Brumadinho

The dam collapse in Brazil last week that killed 84 was the second such tragedy in just over three years, pointing to weak oversight by the government and urgent need for reforms. On January 25, a dam with mineral waste…
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Ordinary Brazilians Suffer Health Effects, Retaliation for Speaking Out

(São Paulo) – Rural residents are being poisoned in Brazil from pesticides sprayed near their homes, schools, and workplaces, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Many rural communities fear reprisals from wealthy and politically…
Bernardo, a man in his 30s, was born in a quilombo (Afro-Brazilian) community of around 60, men, women, and children in Minas Gerais State, southeast Brazil. Bernardo told Human Rights Watch that he feels powerless against aerial spraying of pesticides. “
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On International Women’s Day, Remember the Dangers Women Activists Face

It has been a year since Ruth Alicia Lopez Guisao, a rights activist in Colombia, was assassinated by unidentified gunmen. She was an outspoken community leader that worked with Afro-Colombian and indigenous groups on land reform in the western department…
Ruth Alicia López Guisao.
News

UN Pollution Meeting Should Embrace Child Rights in its Resolutions

Bhopal, Chernobyl, and Minamata – these environmental disasters shocked the world. Yet, pollution results not only from catastrophic accidents but also from years of silent exposure. Children’s developing bodies are particularly…
“My name is Amina and I am twenty years old. I grew up here in the town of Bagega. I had six children. Three have died. Each time one died, I was so distraught and I was very traumatized.” Amina, Bagega, Zamfara state, Nigeria, 2011.
News

State of Roraima Fails to Investigate, Prosecute Abusers

(São Paulo) – The authorities in the Brazilian state of Roraima are failing to investigate or prosecute domestic violence cases, leaving women at further risk of abuse, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The serious problems in Roraima,…
Marchers hold pictures of women killed violently to mark International Women's Day in São Paulo on March 8, 2014.