Press Release: Traditional Lands in Brazil
The Brazilian Supreme Court is scheduled to decide on a landmark case regarding indigenous and other traditional community´s rights in the coming days. In the Extraordinary Appeal 1017365, the Court will decide if there is a time frame for Indigenous communities to claim their traditional lands.
In this case, the National Indian Foundation – FUNAI (the Brazilian agency for the promotion of indigenous peoples´ interests) appealed a decision from the 4th Regional Federal Court that granted the eviction of a hundred Indigenous persons from the Biological Reserve of Sassafrás, State of Santa Catarina. During the proceedings, the disputed lands were recognized as the Ibirama-la Klãnõ Indigenous Land. The Santa Catarina Environment Institute sustains that Indigenous communities should only have a right to their lands if they were occupied by 1988 (when the Constitution was promulgated), position that is supported by large landowners.
As stated by the FUNAI, the Brazilian Constitution protects the original right for the lands traditionally occupied by Indigenous peoples. The Supreme Court has recognized the “general repercussion” of this case, which implies that its decision must be followed by courts of lower instances. This ruling may influence more than 300 land-demarcation proceedings and give rise to claims for the annulment of previous demarcations.
The development of this case is being followed with concern by many national and international Human Rights Organisations. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Mr. Francisco Cali Tzay, has asked the Brazilian Supreme Court to uphold Indigenous land rights, stating that “it could legitimize violence against indigenous peoples and inflame conflicts in the Amazon rainforest and other areas.”
Global Human Rights Defence – GHRD calls the State of Brazil, and especially the Supreme Court of Brazil, to respect, protect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples in its territory, in attention to the 1988 Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights, the International Labour Organisation Convention nº 169 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The Hague, NL, 30 August 2021.