A work group established by the Special Secretariat of Human Rights has begun to identify people who live under the threat of death in the state of Pará, in Brazil’s far north, in order to provide them protection and guarantee their physical integrity.
For this purpose the group crossed-checked lists provided by the Catholic Church’s Land Pastoral Commission (CPT), the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST), the Pará Federation of Agricultural Workers (Fetagri), and legislators linked to social movements.
Minister Nilmário Miranda, head of the Special Secretariat of Human Rights, said that, even though the official inauguration of the group only occurred February 21, the group has already met twice.
The five members will travel to the 11 municipalities in Pará in which the risk of conflict exists, to evaluate what measures to take. The idea is to work together with state government officials to decide the best way to ensure protection.
“The members of the work group are already leaving for the various municipalities to talk to individuals whose lives are threatened, in order to determine the form in which protection will be provided,” the Minister explained in an interview.
The measures also include monitoring human rights violations in the state, as well as transmitting suggestions to state authorities on how best to combat these crimes.
Preliminary data from the CPT indicate that, in the country as a whole, 161 people received death threats related to land disputes in 2004. In the state of Pará alone, there were 40, including the pastoral missionary Dorothy Stang, murdered February 12 in Anapu.
Translation: David Silberstein