Right Livelihood delivering a statement at the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council.

Illegal mining in Brazil threatens the lives and environment of indigenous peoples, Right Livelihood and Survival warn

News 11.03.2022

Illegal mining is posing a serious threat to the lives, well-being and environment of indigenous peoples in Brazil, Right Livelihood and Survival warned the UN Human Rights Council on Friday, urging Brazil to protect indigenous territories from such harmful practices.

Read the statement here.

Our statement was delivered during an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment at the 49th session of the Human Rights Council. It was prepared jointly by Right Livelihood and 1989 Laureate Survival.

“The massive invasion of wildcat miners in indigenous territories is causing irreversible damage to the environment and threatening the lives, health and security of indigenous peoples,” our statement said.

We called attention in particular to the fact that Yanomami, Munduruku, Xikrin, Parakanã and Kayapo peoples in Brazil are facing a socio-environmental crisis because illegal mining is contaminating their territories with high levels of mercury.

“Almost 20 per cent of mercury used in gold extraction processes is directly dumped into rivers,” we noted.

The remaining 80 per cent evaporates and ends up in the food chain through contaminated rain.

“Indigenous communities’ exposure to methylmercury causes severe, permanent health damage,” we said in the statement.

We urged the Brazilian government to “immediately remove all illegal miners and effectively protect indigenous lands in Brazil, in line with their national and international obligations.”

We also called on the Human Rights Council to ensure that indigenous peoples’ rights are upheld: including their right to life, health and a healthy environment.

Right Livelihood Laureate Survival International is a non-governmental organisation helping tribal peoples to exercise their rights to survival and self-determination, ensuring that their interests are properly presented in all decisions affecting their future.

They have long worked with indigenous communities around the world, including 2019 Laureates Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association.

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