I am aware of the concerns in Brazil, and across Latin America more widely, regarding environmental issues, land rights and the rights of indigenous communities. Sensitivities relating to development of indigenous lands without sufficient consultation or consent with the local population have been brought to my attention and I remain concerned at reports of unacceptable levels of violence and killings of land rights and indigenous rights activists, often those vocally opposing such projects.
A report released in August 2018 by UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ms. Victoria Tauli Corpuz, highlights the difficult situation that exists in several countries, including Brazil, for indigenous communities and activists. The report concludes that states carry the primary responsibility for ensuring that indigenous peoples are able to safely exercise their rights and that accountability is established for violations against indigenous communities and defenders. The report also highlights the necessity to engage in genuine, free and informed consultation with communities prior to development.
Ireland has called on a number of occasions for states, including Brazil, to ensure full accountability for any violence, harassment or intimidation of civil society, indigenous or environmental activists exercising their rights to freedom of expression, and for the respect of indigenous communities' rights. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that call.
Ireland used the occasion of the 27th Session of the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 5 May 2017 to express our concern at the reported regression in the protection of indigenous peoples’ rights in Brazil. Ireland recommended that Brazil take further steps to protect human rights defenders, including those working in relation to the rights of indigenous peoples, by ensuring impartial, thorough and effective investigations into all cases of attacks, harassment and intimidation and the prosecution of all alleged perpetrators of such offences.
In addition to these representations at multilateral level, officials of my Department at home and at our Embassy in Brasília engage regularly with human rights activists and civil society leaders in Latin America, including those working on the rights of indigenous communities.
I take note of President Bolsonaro's decision to keep Brazil in the Paris Agreement, which is an encouraging development. Ireland is a committed supporter of global efforts to combat climate change, one of the most serious threats facing the world today, and Brazil has been an important partner on this issue. Brazil played a key role in the formation of the Paris Agreement of 2015, and this is an indication that President Bolsonaro will honour these commitments.
Ireland will continue to engage with Brazil, and other partners in the Latin America and Caribbean region, on the issues of climate change, sustainable development, and indigenous rights through our bilateral, EU level and EU-CELAC relationships. We will monitor developments closely, and will continue to engage with EU and local partners, raising these issues at EU and UN level as appropriate.