Geneva, May 08, 2021.- The Government of Brazil must protect indigenous people’s rights amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People (EMRIP) said in an Advisory Note.
The EMRIP, composed of seven independent experts, made 23 short and long-term recommendations relating to the health and land rights of indigenous peoples in the country, stressing that all measures taken to combat the virus should be taken with the participation, consultation and the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples.
The experts said measures to combat COVID-19 should be taken for all indigenous peoples in Brazil regardless of where they are located. This includes the vaccination of the entire indigenous population without discrimination as part of a national vaccination plan.
The EMRIP provides the Human Rights Council with expertise and advice on the rights of indigenous peoples. These recommendations were drawn up by the EMRIP, under its revised country engagement mandate, pursuant to a request by indigenous peoples in Brazil to provide advice on how their rights should be protected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EMRIP welcomed the work being undertaken by the State agencies with priority for the protection of indigenous peoples in Brazil, FUNAI and SESAI, who work in difficult and challenging circumstances, including in remote areas.
In the Advisory Note, the experts said that authorities in Brazil should disseminate accurate, reliable, timely information in plain language on COVID-19 and vaccines to indigenous peoples, highlighting the necessity for coherent and consistent messaging.
They also suggested responses to issues around indigenous land which have been exacerbated during the COVID pandemic such as: the need to remove non-indigenous peoples who have settled illegally on indigenous land; the protection of indigenous land from invasion; refraining from authorising development projects on indigenous land during the current crisis; and the resumption of demarcation of indigenous land.
The need to ensure timely and effective investigations of killings on indigenous land was also highlighted as a measure that demands immediate attention.