Brazil: After visit to Piquiá, UN Expert echoes FIDH’s calls for redress

Ending a two-week visit to Brazil, Baskut Tuncak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics released preliminary findings on Friday, where he firmly condemned Brazil’s "tragic path of dismantling already weakened institutions that were set up to protect people and the environment".

Citing the abuses committed by the mining and steel industry, he stressed the dire situation in Piquiá de Baixo (Maranhão), where he visited last week: "The community ... has been poisoned for decades. While progress has been made towards relocating this resilient community to homes where they can live in dignity, the Government’s chaotic policies and budgetary cuts threaten to leave this community to further endure the abuse of their rights by Vale, Viena Siderúrgica and Gusa Nordeste indefinitely."

In a report published in 2011, FIDH, Justiça nos Trilhos and Justiça Global denounced the corporate abuses and state negligence towards Piquiá. The organizations have since repeatedly called the international community, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, to put pressure on Brazil and ask for prompt redress. In May 2019, FIDH and Justiça nos Trilhos issued a second report recounting the remarkable struggle led by the community in Piquiá in the face of persistent violations, as well as the risk surrounding the completion of the hard-won community relocation project.

FIDH welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s statement and look forward the presentation to the U.N. Human Rights Council, in September 2020, of his full report on his Brazilian visit. Tuncak’s work grants visibility to the community’s struggle for its rights and further corroborates, from within the UN system, the harsh diagnostic found in FIDH’s reports. More than ever, the Brazilian state and companies involved must provide full redress after decades of violations and laissez-faire in Piquiá.

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