Last Updated: Friday, 02 December 2016, 15:22 GMT

Brazil: Investigation opened over suspicions of illegal intelligence activities by mining company against social movements and human rights defenders

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 2 May 2013
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Brazil: Investigation opened over suspicions of illegal intelligence activities by mining company against social movements and human rights defenders, 2 May 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/518ceec42e.html [accessed 3 December 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Last Update 2 May 2013

Geneva-Paris, May 2, 2013. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, were informed of the recent opening of an investigation against Vale, the second largest global mining company, for suspected illegal intelligence activities targeting social movements and human rights defenders through phone tapping and infiltration.

According to the information received, the Public Prosecutor recently opened an investigation on the basis of a complaint brought on March 18, 2013 by the former Intelligence Director of Vale. The latter reported the phone tapping in November 2010 of a private conversation between Mr. Fernando Thompson, an officer from Vale, and Ms. Vera Durão, a journalist working for Valor Econômico, in charge of the daily coverage of the activities of the mining company. Illegal spying practices were also allegedly directed against some Vale employees, targeting not only phone calls, but also emails and computer files.

It is also alleged that the company paid a number of individuals to infiltrate the Landless Workers' Movement (Movimiento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST) as well as the Rede Justiça nos Trilhos (JnT – a coalition of organisations defending the rights of the communities), and to monitor some trade unionists, environmentalists and journalists. According to the information received, such infiltrations have been taking place since 2008 and are reportedly still ongoing.

According to the same allegations, two agents of the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (Agência Brasileira de Inteligência – ABIN), a State body formerly known as the National Intelligence Service, developed under the dictatorship and essentially composed of ex-military personnel, would have been hired by the Vale mining company to conduct these activities.

Through the publication of a written announcement published on April 22, 2013,[1] Vale officially admitted having monitored both the MST and JnT movements, claiming that they were harming the interests of the company, but denied the accusations of infiltration.[2]

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about these acts of monitoring and allegations of infiltration, and urges the Brazilian authorities to carry out a prompt, impartial and transparent investigation into all the above-mentioned elements.

The Observatory more generally urges the authorities of Brazil to guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders and NGOs can carry out their activities free of any hindrances, and to comply with international human rights standards and instruments ratified by Brazil.

[1] See http://s.conjur.com.br/dl/nota-vale.pdf.

[2] Some of those facts had already been covered in an FIDH report published in May 2011 and titled "How Much Are Human Rights Worth In The Brazilian Mining And Steel Industry". The report outlined a number of recommendations to the Brazilian authorities and to the company.

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