Press Release

IACHR Adopts Precautionary Protection Measures for Members of the Munduruku Indigenous People in Brazil

December 14, 2020

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Resolution 94/2020 (available in Spanish)

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Washington, D.C. - On December 11, 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) adopted Resolution 94/2020 (link in Spanish), through which it granted precautionary measures in favor of the members of the Muduruku indigenous people. The petitioners alleged that the beneficiaries are at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in view of their particular vulnerability, shortfalls in health care, and the presence of unauthorized third parties in their territory.

In this case, the IACHR recalled that indigenous peoples have experienced historical vulnerability, particularly peoples in voluntary isolation, and noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the beneficiaries have allegedly been in frequent contact with third parties who are not authorized to enter the lands they inhabit and who are potential vectors of the disease.

The IACHR took note of the information provided by the State regarding the actions it had implemented to confront illegal mining on lands inhabited by the Munduruku people, alleging that there had been no omissions in this regard. It was noted that the petitioners presented relevant data that allegedly indicated that the illegal exploitation of resources on indigenous lands had increased, such as the fact that deforestation had increased by 177% in 2019 as compared to 2018, a record high for the last 10 years. According to the petitioners, this is allegedly the result of decreases or shortfalls in State monitoring activities.

When evaluating the request for precautionary measures, the IACHR took into account the fact that it did not have enough material to indicate whether the state had taken sufficient, effective action to protect the members of the Munduruku from the alleged risks. According to the information provided by the State itself, as of August 22, 2020, more than 10% of the Munduruku People had been diagnosed with COVID-19 (1,625 positive cases). Furthermore, in September 2020, the Tapajós River Special Indigenous Health District, which is responsible for providing health care to the beneficiaries, had the second-highest COVID-19 infection rate in Brazil, with a reproduction rate of over 1.50, which implies that the risk of the disease spreading throughout the territory is very high.

Consequently, based on Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the IACHR requested that Brazil adopt the necessary measures to protect the right to health, life, and personal integrity of the members of the Munduruku indigenous people by implementing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from a culturally appropriate perspective and provide them with adequate medical care that complies with the conditions of availability, accessibility, acceptability, and quality, in accordance with the applicable international standards; that it agree on the measures to be adopted with the beneficiaries and their representatives; and that it report on the actions it takes to investigate the events that led to the adoption of this precautionary measure and thus prevent these from being repeated.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the state does not entail a prejudgment on any petition that may eventually be filed before the inter-American system to allege that the rights protected by the American Convention and other applicable instruments have been violated.

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. 302/20