IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures in Favor of Antônio Martins Alves in Brazil

October 22, 2021

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Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 86/2021 on October 21, 2021, to grant precautionary measures in favor of Antônio Martins Alves in Brazil, in the belief that he faces a serious, urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to his rights.

According to the request for these precautionary measures, the fate and whereabouts of Antônio Martins Alves have been unknown since July 16, 2021. Martins Alves is a traditional rural worker who lives in the Canaã settlement area. He is actively involved in the defense of both his own land and the environment, which has historically brought him into conflict with individuals and groups with interests in road construction, deforestation, tourist exploitation, and other activities with a significant environmental impact.

After Martins Alves was officially reported missing on July 19, 2021, the authorities allegedly took action to find him, but with no concrete results. The request for these precautionary measures noted that approximately 90 days had passed in which the authorities had failed to establish Martins Alves' whereabouts. It also expressed particular concern about the man's vulnerability, given his socioeconomic status marked by historical marginalization, his age, and his health condition, including his difficulty walking.

The State said that Martins Alves had not been found, despite intense searches, and that no evidence had been found of his death or of any crimes having been committed against him. The State asked Martins Alves' daughter to provide a sample of her genetic material to forensic experts so it was recorded in the relevant systems. Healthcare and security institutions were also officially informed of this case, so they report to the police any relevant data they have access to. The State argued that this request for precautionary measures is unnecessary, because effective measures are already being taken.

The Commission valued the information that was submitted by the State on the measures taken since the beneficiary's alleged disappearance was reported. However, the State did not provide data that suggested that any significant progress was being made to find Martins Alves, to establish what happened to him, or to confirm that he is not in danger.

Consequently, in keeping with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission asks the Brazilian State to take the following action:

  1. Adopt any measures necessary to establish Martins Alves' whereabouts and condition, in order to protect his rights to life and personal integrity
  2. Report on any actions adopted to investigate the alleged events that gave rise to the adoption of this precautionary measure, in order to prevent such events from happening again in the future

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 281/21

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