IACHR Grants Precautionary Measures to Members of the Tapeba Indigenous People of Caucaia in Brazil

May 10, 2024

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Washington, D.C.—On May 9, 2024, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued Resolution 28/2024 granting precautionary measures to members of the Tapeba de Caucaia Indigenous People in Brazil, whose rights to life and personal integrity it deems to be at grave and urgent risk of experiencing irreparable harm.

The request for precautionary measures alleged that, as a result of the failure to demarcate and protect their territory, the beneficiaries have been subjected to violence and threats from organized crime and the police and have been forced to leave their villages. They reported having experienced violence, killings, assaults, and intimidation, such as the destruction of property and the use of firearms within Tapeba communities.

The State reported that the Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders of the State of Ceará (PPDDH/CE) has provided support for seven leaders of the Tapeba Indigenous Peoples of Caucaia since 2016, acknowledging that they are at risk of violence perpetrated by the police force and criminal organizations in the context of their struggle for land demarcation. It also reported on ongoing investigations that document the expulsion of 23 indigenous families from the village of Sobradinho by criminal groups in March 2023, as well as threats to Tapeba communities and the invasion and sale of their land.

The IACHR noted that the beneficiaries have been exposed to risk for a considerable time despite the investigations that have been initiated and the PPDDH/CE's work with the Tapeba Indigenous People. The IACHR warned of the seriousness of the lack of information provided by the State on the protection measures being implemented in the villages, effective responses given the alleged involvement of the police in some of the cases in question, and measures specifically aimed at confronting the criminal groups operating in the area.

The IACHR also pointed out that the violence described has a differentiated impact on indigenous peoples due to their special relationship with the land, which is why the presence of criminal groups in Tapeba villages and the alleged role of the police are factors that heighten the risks that the beneficiaries have historically faced in the process of defending indigenous rights.

In accordance with Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that Brazil:

  1. adopt the necessary culturally appropriate measures to protect the rights to life and personal integrity of the members of the Tapeba de Caucaia Indigenous People, including against acts committed by third parties. These measures should allow the Tapeba leaders to continue their work defending human rights and ensure that the beneficiaries can return to their villages without being subjected to threats, harassment, or acts of violence;
  2. agree on any measures to be taken with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and
  3. report on the actions it implements to investigate the alleged events that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure so as to prevent them from being repeated.

The granting of these precautionary measures and their 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 the rights protected by the American Convention on Human Rights and other applicable instruments.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate stems from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on the matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 097/24

5:25 PM