Repression and Criminalization of Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST)

What is affected
Housing Social/public
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 17 June 2008
Region LAC [ Latin America/Caribbean ]
Country Brazil
Location Fazenda Guerra, in Coqueiros do Sul, Northern region of the state of Rio Grande do Sul

Affected persons

Total 300
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution
Details UA-Brazil-Eviction of Peasants-MST.doc
Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative Very early in the morning of 17 June 2008, five hundred soldiers appeared in the landless camps of Coqueiros do Sul with an eviction order issued by the judiciary of Carazinho the day before. The eviction order followed a complaint filed by the Attorney General on 11 June. The landless families living in the vicinity of the Fazenda Guerra were forcibly evicted from their camps legally occupied. The judiciary did not care about where the families will stay after the eviction.

Very serious is the fact that the Attorney General’s office of Rio Grande do Sul is trying to characterize MST as a threat for national security that, therefore, ought to be dismantled. One of the authors of the complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office, Luis Felipe Tesheiner, summarizes the justification for the complaint as follows: "It is not about removing camps but about dismantling the grassroots MST uses to repeatedly commit crimes." In the preliminary ruling of Justice Orlando Faccino Neto allowing the complaint filed by the Attorney General it reads: "It is just violence what is going on over there, in Coqueiros do Sul" and goes on characterizing the landless camps as "seedbeds of illicit acts which cannot be further tolerated."

It is noteworthy that the complaint of the Attorney General’s office is allegedly based on police incidents in which MST persons living in the aforementioned camps would be involved. According to our information, though, none of these persons have been convicted. With these allegations the Attorney General and the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul are treating as convicted persons which have not been tried at all. Even if these persons were being tried, their innocence should be presumed until the contrary is proven. Moreover, the Attorney General’s office and the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul do not consider land and agrarian conflicts as social conflicts at all.

The forced eviction committed against 300 landless families in Coqueiros do Sul by the military following a judicial ruling of the judiciary of Rio Grande do Sul violates the right to due process enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights and in the Brazilian Constitution.

Additionally, the actions and decisions aforementioned violate international standards on evictions established by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in its General Comment N° 7. The forced eviction of the landless families in question represents a serious breach of the obligation of the Brazilian state to respect the right to adequate food and housing as set forth in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Protocol of San Salvador.

Moreover, the actions and decisions of the state agencies involved in this case clearly represent an attempt to criminalize the struggle of Brazilian landless people for agrarian reform and is, therefore, a violation of the right to free association that hinders landless people to defend their human rights.
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