UN body says Brazil violating indigenous rights 26 March 2012

Kayapó Indians dance at an anti-dam protest
Kayapó Indians dance at an anti-dam protest
© Terence Turner

The International Labour Organization (ILO), part of the UN, has criticized the Brazilian government for failing to respect indigenous peoples’ rights.

The ILO has stated that by failing to consult Indians about the construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam, Brazil has violated the ILO’s Convention 169 on indigenous peoples’ rights, to which the country is a signatory.

Brazilian Indians have held several large-scale protests against the dam, which will bring devastation to their rainforest. The uncontacted Indians living in the area could suffer the greatest impacts.

Whilst visiting Europe to raise awareness about the dam’s dangers, indigenous spokeswoman Sheyla Juruna said, ‘The dams will bring irreversible cultural, social and environmental damage. We are being treated like animals – all our rights are being violated’.

Brazil’s Public Ministry and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have ordered the government to suspend the dam construction until the Indians’ rights are respected, but the works continue.

The ILO has urged that the Indians be consulted ‘before the possible harmful effects [of the dam] are irreversible’.

Survival is urging all governments to ratify ILO 169, the only international law for tribal peoples.

 

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