Brazil's government has been advised by the United Nations to conduct an impartial investigation into the murders of British journalist Don Phillips and local indigenist expert Bruno Araújo Pereira in Amazonia earlier this month.
We call on state authorities to ensure that the investigations are impartial, transparent and thorough and that reparation is provided to the families of the victims, said a statement from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. We call on the authorities to increase their efforts to protect human rights defenders and indigenous peoples, the note went on.
The two bodies were found Wednesday in a jungle area where police were led by fisherman Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, alias Pelado, who is under arrest together with his brother Oseney, da Costa Oliveira, alias Dos Santos, in Atalaia do Norte, a municipality located in Vale do Javari. They have both confessed to the murders, according to local media.
President Jair Bolsonaro Thursday expressed his condolences to the families of Phillips and Araújo Pereira, who disappeared on June 5 while traveling by boat in the Vale do Javari, northwest of the state of Amazonas, a region close to Colombia and Peru. Bolsonaro had pointed out earlier this week that Phillips was frowned upon by garimpeiros, or illegal gold and other mineral prospectors operating in the Amazon.
The National Indian Foundation (Funai), of which Araújo Pereira was an official on leave, expressed its immense regret at the passing of the expert, who leaves an immense legacy for the policy of protecting isolated indigenous people.
The Vale do Javari indigenous reserve is home to the largest concentration of native communities that have never had contact with western civilization.
In addition to the Oliveira brothers, authorities are investigating three other suspects, it was reported.
Justice Minister Anderson Torres said that ”there are still many things (to be clarified), we need to find the boat (where the victims were traveling) and finish with the authorship of the crime,” which has not yet been fully revealed.
A Brazilian Federal Police (PF) aircraft landed in Brasilia Thursday afternoon carrying the two bodies for forensic testing by the National Institute of Criminalistics. The studies may take between 8 to 10 days, according to Marcos Camargo, chairman of the Association of Criminal Experts.