Brazil must investigate illegal spying and infiltration activities involving Vale S.A.

Press release
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Yesterday, at a public and interactive hearing of the Federal Senate Commission for Human Rights and Participatory Legislation (Comisión de Derechos Humanos y Legislación Participativa), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Justiça Global and Red Justiça Nos Trilhos asked that the illegal spying and infiltration activities allegedly committed by the Brazilian company Vale S.A. against civil society movements and organisations be investigated and prosecuted.

From 2008 to date, Vale S.A. supposedly ran an intelligence network that spied on a large number of civil society organisations in the states of Río de Janeiro, Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Pará, and Maranhāo. The activities potentially include phone tapping, email interception, gaining access to INFOSEG (the national register which contains the court and prison records of individuals) and to bank details, income tax forms, intelligence reports, and bribing civil servants for information. The company may have also hired the services of private intelligence companies to infiltrate organisations. Additionally, Vale S.A. may have hired agents employed by the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Agencia Brasilera de Inteligencia - ABIN) to train staff to infiltrate Red Justiça Nos Trilhos and the Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Sem Terra - MST). The ABIN is comprised of former members of the military and is the legacy of the intelligence services which operated under the dictatorship.

In light of events, the Federal Senate Commission for Human Rights and Participatory Legislation today held a hearing attended by the representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Special Secretariat on Human Rights, the Office of the Attorney General, the main witness and his legal counsel, Justiça Global, Justiça Nos Trilhos, and the FIDH. Vale, S.A. was invited to attend the hearing, but was not present.

Javier Mujica, who headed the FIDH mission, stated that, “We find it regrettable that Vale did not attend such an important hearing. We again ask Vale to take all of the measures needed to put an end to these illegal interception and infiltration activities”.

Gabriel Strautman, of Justiça Global, asserted that, “The Brazilian State must protect its citizens from human rights violation perpetrated on its soil by companies by adopting appropriate legislation to prevent, investigate, punish and provide remedy for such abuses, in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”.

Referring to the hearing today, Danilo Chammas of Justiça Nos Trilhos, declared, “We welcome with satisfaction the seriousness with which the Commission for Human Rights and Participatory Legislation has addressed the accusations made against Vale”. Clearly, the Commission has committed to calling for action from the various agents of the State charged with investigating the facts, to communicating with the competent authorities, and to asking the National Congress Parliamentary Commission on Espionage Investigations to investigate State spying activities such as the ones linked to the PRISM scandal in addition to the spying activities carried out by Vale.

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