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Brazil: Fear for the security of human rights defender Mr Júnior José Guerra after returning home following temporary relocation to a safer place
Front Line Defenders expresses concern for the security of human rights defender Mr Júnior José Guerra upon his return to his home in Pará State on 22 June 2012.
[Versão em português anexada abaixo]
His return follows his temporary relocation, together with his family, to another state for more than six months as a result of serious threats on his life.
Júnior Jóse Guerra is the former chairperson of Conselho Fiscal da Associação de Moradores do Plano de Assentamento Areia (Supervisory Board of the Residents Association in the Areia Settlement) and he played a key role in the filing of formal complaints regarding illegal logging activities in the region. Within his role with the Residents Association, Júnior Jóse Guerra was also involved in community management action plans against corruption in the region of the Areia Settlement, in the city of Trairão, Pará State.
On 22 June 2012, Júnior Jóse Guerra returned to his home in the Areia Settlement, following his temporary relocation as a result of death threats he had been receiving and an attempted attack. Upon his return he was informed that on 24 May 2012 his home had been set alight by unidentified individuals, resulting in partial damage to the building and contents. Furthermore, four days later his animals were poisoned and killed and a message was left on the fence stating: “Vai morrer em 20 dias” (You will die in 20 days). The person who was taking care of Júnior Jóse Guerra's residence in his absence has reportedly received five death threats since December 2011.
Júnior Jóse Guerra has temporarily been accepted into the National Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders and returned to Pará to give testimony in the case of the killing of his colleague Mr João Chupel Primo. On 20 October 2011, Júnior José Guerra and João Chupel Primo submitted a formal complaint to the Public Prosecutor of Altamira describing a route of illegal logging activities in the Riozinho Anfrísio Extractive Reserve and Trairão National Forest. Two days later João Chupel Primo was shot dead inside the car repair shop where he worked in the city of Itaituba, Pará.
On 2 December 2011, Júnior José Guerra was chased by unidentified individuals and had to travel to another city in order to avoid being attacked. As a result of this incident, the human rights defender decided to temporarily leave the region with his family, before returning on 22 June 2012.
Pará State records high levels of violence, and human rights defenders working on land and environmental issues are particularly at risk. In the period between October 2011 and January 2012 the Trairão police station registered eleven homicides, four of which were related to disputes over land and timber.
Front Line Defenders believes that the attack on the home and property of Júnior Jóse Guerra, as well as the death threats against him, are directly related to his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, particularly his activities against illegal logging in Pará State, and is seriously concerned with the physical and psychological integrity of the human rights defender and his family.