2019 Laureate Davi Kopenawa of the Yanomami Indigenous group in Brazil.

Violations in Western Sahara and Brazil must be top priority for reviews of countries’ human rights record

News 07.10.2022

Violations committed by Morocco in Western Sahara and by illegal miners against Indigenous peoples in Brazil must be prioritised by the UN Human Rights Council when reviewing the two countries’ human rights record, Right Livelihood told the 51st sessions of the Council.

Read the statement here.

Our statement drew attention to critical issues in Morocco and Brazil’s implementation of human rights as the Council prepares to conduct its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the states. The Council reviews the state of human rights in UN member states every 5 years.

Morocco, which illegally occupies Western Sahara, systematically abuses the human rights of Sahrawi people, we warned.

“Any attempt at claiming the Sahrawi people’s inalienable right to self-determination and the respect of their fundamental freedoms is violently repressed,” our statement said.

“We urge States to prioritise the issue of Western Sahara in their recommendations, calling on Morocco to put an end to all forms of repression, guarantee to all Sahrawis the full enjoyment of their fundamental rights, in particular their right to self-determination.”

In Brazil, the well-being and livelihoods of Indigenous peoples in the Amazon region are under threat from illegal miners. Authorities have not only been dismantling legal frameworks protecting Indigenous peoples but have even promoted the liberalisation of mining.

“This resulted in a serious escalation of violence, health damages due to mercury contamination and infectious diseases as well as deforestation,” the statement said.

“We thus call on States to recommend Brazil to ensure that free, prior and informed consent is always respected; immediately remove all illegal miners from the affected territories, protect indigenous communities from further invasions and guarantee accountability for crimes committed against them.”

As the UPR is a peer-review process, non-governmental organisations are not able to make direct recommendations to the State under review. However, we can inform other States about human rights issues so that they can, in turn, make important recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the country.

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