IACHR CONDEMNS MURDER OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER IN BRAZIL
Washington, D.C., February 6, 2009 — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) condemns the murder of attorney Manoel Bezerra de Mattos, a human rights defender and councilman from the city of Itambé in Paraiba, Brazil, who was the beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR in 2002. As a human rights defender, Mr. Bezerra de Mattos publicly denounced the actions of death squads in the states of Paraiba and Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil.
According to the information received by the IACHR, on January 24, 2009, around 10:30 p.m., two individuals entered a residence in a beach in the state of Paraiba, where Mr. Bezerra de Mattos was staying with friends and relatives, and ordered everyone to drop to the floor. The two fired at Mr. Bezerra de Mattos, who died from gunshot wounds.
The IACHR urges the State of Brazil to conduct an exhaustive investigation and to punish those responsible for the killing.
As the IACHR noted in its Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas, the work of such defenders is essential for building a solid and lasting democratic society. Human rights defenders play a leading role in the process of pursuing the full attainment of the rule of law and the strengthening of democracy.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who act in a personal capacity, without representing a particular country, and who are elected by the OAS General Assembly.
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