Barzilian Supreme Court Judge Overturns Suspension of Belo Monte Dam #badnews #protest


Brazilian Supreme Court Caves to Executive Pressure

Brasilia, Brazil – August 29 – The Brazilian Supreme Court has overturned the suspension of the Belo Monte Dam, caving to pressure from President Dilma Rousseff’s administration without giving appropriate consideration to the indigenous rights implications of the case, human rights groups said today. The case illustrates the Brazilian judiciary’s alarming lack of independence, when powerful interests are at stake.

On August 27th the Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court Carlos Ayres Britto unilaterally overturned an August 14th ruling by a regional federal court (TRF-1) to suspend construction of the controversial Belo Monte Dam. The suspension was based on illegalities in the 2005 congressional authorization of the project due to the absence of prior consultations with affected indigenous peoples, as required by the federal constitution and ILO Convention 169.

“This unfortunate decision doesn’t invalidate the TRF1’s judgment that the project is unconstitutional,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. “This is a failure of the judiciary to stand up to entrenched interests and the power of a politically motivated executive branch that wants the Belo Monte Dam to move forward at all costs.”

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office is expected to appeal Britto’s decision and demand a review by the full Supreme Court. Yesterday’s decision was also not a judgment of the merits of the case and the Supreme Court may still uphold the decision that suspended this highly controversial Amazon dam project.

Justice Britto was reported to have received multiple Ministers and other government representatives in recent days who argued against the suspension of Belo Monte and long overdue consultations with indigenous peoples. Despite repeated requests, he was unwilling to meet with representatives of indigenous communities affected by the project, prior to issuing his decision on Monday.

“This case is emblematic of a seriously flawed legal system, where bureaucracy and political interventions allow for systematic violations of human rights and environmental law,” said Brent Millikan, Amazon Program Director at International Rivers. “There is an urgent need to judge the merits of over a dozen lawsuits against Belo Monte that are still awaiting their day in court.”

Justice Britto’s decision was made in response to a complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), in which the central argument was that the regional court’s decision conflicted with a previous Supreme Court ruling in 2007. However, the prior Supreme Court decision actually recognized that the Brazilian Congress’ authorization of Belo Monte – in the absence of prior consultations with indigenous peoples – was flawed. Instead of canceling Belo Monte altogether, the previous ruling ordered that an environmental impact study and consultations with indigenous peoples be completed in order for the Congress to reach a decision on whether the project should move forward.

One of the arguments in the AGU complaint is that the suspension of Belo Monte would cause social and economic chaos if some 14,000 workers were dismissed. There is no mention of the social, economic, and environmental havoc that the construction of Belo Monte is wreaking on the region, nor the fact that when dam construction is completed in a few years, some 40,000 workers are scheduled to be fired.

This decision sets a terrible precedent for Belo Monte and the dozens of dam projects planned for the Brazilian Amazon,” said Raul Silva Telles do Vale, Associate Coordinator for Policy and Law with the Social-Environmental Institute. “It indicates that consultations with indigenous peoples can be carried out in any manner – including after Congressional authorization of a project or after an environmental impact study has been carried out. It also means that consultations aren’t required for dam projects that don’t directly flood indigenous lands, denying what are in fact disastrous impacts on downstream communities.”

CONTACT: Conservation Groups

Brent Millikan, +55 61 8153 7009, brent@internationalrivers.org
Caroline Bennett, 1 415 487 9600, caroline@amazonwatch.org

Environmental activists ‘being killed at rate of one a week’


Death toll of campaigners involved in protection of forests, rivers and land has almost doubled in three years

Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro
Tuesday June 19 2012
guardian.co.uk

The struggle for the world’s remaining natural resources is becoming more murderous, according to a new report that reveals that environmental activists were killed at the rate of one a week in 2011.

The death toll of campaigners, community leaders and journalists involved in the protection of forests, rivers and land has risen dramatically in the past three years, said Global Witness.

Brazil  the host of the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development  has the worst record for danger in a decade that has seen the deaths of more than 365 defenders, said the briefing, which was released on the eve of the high-level segment of the Earth Summit.

The group called on the leaders at Rio to set up systems to monitor and counter the rising violence, which in many cases involves governments and foreign corporations, and to reduce the consumption pressures that are driving development into remote areas.

“This trend points to the increasingly fierce global battle for resources, and represents the sharpest of wake-up calls for delegates in Rio,” said Billy Kyte, campaigner at Global Witness.

The group acknowledges that their results are incomplete and skewed towards certain countries because information is fragmented and often missing. This means the toll is likely to be higher than their findings, which did not include deaths related to cross-border conflicts prompted by competition for natural resources, and fighting over gas and oil.

Brazil recorded almost half of the killings worldwide, the majority of which were connected to illegal forest clearance by loggers and farmers in the Amazon and other remote areas, often described as the “wild west”.

Among the recent high-profile cases [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/feb/12/brazil-amazon-rainforest-activists-murder” title=”] were the murders last year of two high-profile Amazon activists, Jos? Cl?udio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo. Such are the risks that dozens of other activists and informers are now under state protection.

Unlike most countries on the list, however, the number of killings in Brazil declined slightly last year, perhaps because the government is making a greater effort to intervene in deforestation cases.

The reverse trend is apparent in the Philippines, where four activists were killed last month, prompting the Kalikasan People’s Network for Environment to talk of “bloody May”.

Though Brazil, Peru and Colombia have reported high rates of killing in the past 10 years, this is partly because they are relatively transparent about the problem thanks to strong civil society groups, media organisations and church groups  notably the Catholic Land Commission in Brazil  which can monitor such crimes. Under-reporting is thought likely in China and Central Asia, which have more closed systems, said the report. The full picture has still to emerge.

Last December, the UN special rapporteur on human rights noted: “Defenders working on land and environmental issues in connection with extractive industries and construction and development projects in the Americas ? face the highest risk of death as result of their human rights activities.”

19 June 2012 update: The number of deaths in Brazil was wrongly cited as 737  this has been corrected to 365. The headline and opening line of this story have been changed to reflect that.

Peoples Summit- Reply to the official Rio + 20 Earth Summit in Brazil


peoplesSummit

Between 15 and 23 June this year, held in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the People’s Summit for Social and Environmental Justice: against the commodification of life and nature and defense of the commons. The event will take place at the Flamengo Embankment, alongside the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio +20). The official meeting marks the twentieth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio 92 or Eco 92). .

The people’s summit is a large space for debate and proposals from global civil society to build a new life on the planet in solidarity against the commodification of nature and in defense of the commons. While the official agenda for Rio +20 favors the “green economy”, global networks and movements that are organizing the People’s Summit is positioned against that new dress that wears the same model of capitalist production and consumption, responsible for the current world crisis.

We expect more than 30 000 people for actions. A Facilitation Committee of the Brazilian Civil Society (CFSC), composed of social movements, nongovernmental organizations, groups and networks, is concerned with all the details (methodology, communication and mobilization). The CFSC is coordinated by the “Group of Joint,” which brings together many social movements and networks such as MMM, CUT, Via Campesina, the Brazilian Network for Peoples Integration (REBRIP) youth movement and environmentalists .

Construction of convergences from our struggles present and able to summon new anti-capitalist processes is the challenge that guides the methodology of the People’s Summit to be organized around three axes:

1. Structural causes of crises and social and environmental injustices, false solutions and new forms of capital accumulation on the peoples and territories. 2. Real solutions and new paradigms of the people. 3. Agendas, campaigns and mobilizations that unify the process of anti-capitalist struggle after the Rio +20.

Activities Self-managed content will be discussion and synthesis of the reflections according to the axes of the Summit.

The Plenary Assembly Pre-Convergence will be great opportunities for convergence of issues and sectors with a view to the preparation of the Assembly of Peoples, organized from contributions of the joint self-managed activities and historical processes of struggle and organization.The objectives are 1) Deepening dialogue and convergence among issues and sectors, 2) consolidate common positions across multiple sectors and issues of convergence and provide a basis for the Assembly of Peoples as an expression of unity in diversity, mobilization and political force with regard to dispute the official process, 3) Build a positioning of the Summit of the people in front of the Rio +20 Conference in the broader context of systemic crises from unifying the different issues, 4) Strengthen the movement , gathering strength for the future, building guidelines and agendas of struggle and generate a new cycle of mobilizations after Rio +20.

The unifying themes of the plenary of convergence are: 1 – Rights, by Justica Social and Environmental, 2 – Common Defense Against Commodification goods; 3 – Food Sovereignty, 4 – Energy and Extractive Industries, 5 – Work: In addition Economy and new paradigms of society.

After the plenary of convergence takes place People’s Assembly, which is the place where, through the testimony and analysis, exchange and solidarity, mobilization and concrete actions, we have the challenge of strengthening the present struggles and call for actions and initiatives, generating new platforms of unity.

The Assembly of Peoples was organized around three axes, which give direction to the whole summit. Assembly will be three sessions, in the mobilization and expression of convergence and positions constructed in the process of the People’s Summit. The public presentation of the positions and convergences will be permeated by cultural and symbolic actions, and encouraged by the different movements, respecting and valuing the diversity of the cultures of organization and mobilization.Assemblies are expected to be a political and symbolic moment in popular struggles, collecting, moving and holding thousands of people around analysis, solutions and common causes.

Official website of the People’s Summit: http://cupuladospovos.org.br

In journalist murders, Brazil, Pakistan, India fail crucial test


Posted: 04/16/2012 5:48 pm,HuffingtonPost

 By Elisabeth Witchel/CPJ Consultant

 Brazil, Pakistan, and India–three nations with high numbers of unsolved journalist murders–failed an important test last month in fighting the scourge of impunity. Delegates from the three countries took the lead in raising objections to a U.N. plan that would strengthen international efforts to combat deadly, anti-press violence.

Meeting in Paris, delegates of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Council of the International Programme for Development of Communication were expected to endorse the U.N. Inter-Agency Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. But a debate that was scheduled for two hours raged for nearly two days, ending without the 39-state council’s endorsement.

The plan, which had been in the works for more than a year, is still proceeding through other U.N. channels, although implementation and funding could face continued difficulties if these nations persist in raising objections. Perhaps more important: Brazil, Pakistan, and India–each ranked among the world’s worst on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2012 Impunity Index–missed an opportunity to send a strong message that they do not condone anti-press violence.

Among its many security-related measures, the plan would strengthen the office of the U.N. special rapporteur for free expression, assist member states in developing national laws to prosecute the killers of journalists, and establish a U.N. inter-agency mechanism to evaluate journalist safety. “The U.N. plan is a unique road map, designed by U.N. agencies, programs, and funds, as well as professional associations, NGOs, and member states to address the issue of the safety of journalists,” said Sylvie Coudray, the UNESCO senior program specialist who has managed the plan’s development. CPJ participated in UNESCO’s consultative process.

During the two-day UNESCO debate, representatives from India and Pakistan repeatedly questioned whether the initiative was appropriate under UNESCO’s mandate. They also dominated the session with calls for greater “transparency” in UNESCO’s sources for information on anti-press attacks. Brazil raised procedural objections, asserting that UNESCO did not have authority to enact the plan.
Delegates from the United Kingdom, Unites States, the Netherlands, Niger, and Albania and others countered that the plan is imperative in light of the growing number of victims of anti-press violence. “Not endorsing this plan,” the Albanian delegate said, “would send the wrong message to the world and to the perpetrators.”
In the end, the council adopted a compromise resolution that allows the plan to move ahead through the U.N. Chief Executives Board, which centralizes operations of specialized U.N. bodies. But UNESCO will have to present another work plan at its executive meeting in spring 2013.
“The failure of the council to formally endorse the action plan, as it was invited to do, is a setback and gives its opponents a chance to renew their hostile attack on the plan and to delay it as it moves on through the other hurdles it must overcome in the U.N. system to get approval and become reality,” said William Horsley, international director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media at the University of Sheffield, who has been closely monitoring the plan.
In a written responses to CPJ queries, a senior Pakistani official said that while his country “welcomes attempts at the international level to find a workable solution,” the U.N. plan “has to be tackled in a comprehensive manner with the cooperation of maximum number of member states at appropriate for[ums].” While acknowledging that Pakistani journalists had been killed, the official said it would be “unfair to say outrightly that Pakistan has a high rate of unresolved cases.” He questioned whether journalist deaths were work-related, and attributed Pakistan’s fatality rate to his country’s war on terror.
Pressure within nations may be a key to keeping the plan on track. In Pakistan, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Umar Cheema took his government to task, while Brazilian news mediaput their government on the defensive with extensive coverage of the story. In an interview last week with CPJ, a senior Brazilian official framed his delegation’s objections as procedural, and said the country would not stand in the way of the plan’s further progress. “We are 95 percent in favor of all the articles here, but some of them we think should follow a different procedure,” the official said. “We are very committed to protecting journalists, although we recognize we have many problems we need to be addressed.”
Despite some dissenting nations’ calls for “transparency” in UNESCO’s information sources, the statistics themselves are clear. More than 560 journalists have been murdered with impunity worldwide over the past two decades, CPJ research shows. Already this year, eight journalists have been murdered across the globe. Pakistan, Brazil and India all have among the highest rates of unsolved journalist murders per capita in the world, CPJ’s Impunity Index shows.
States shouldn’t delay this plan. The killers of journalists are acting now.

 

Watch the Committee to Protect Journalists’ video, “Getting Away With Murder,” about its 2012 Impunity Index:

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