Brazil: it is time to rebuild a stronger democracy and a more open civic space  

Statement at the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

UPR Outcome Adoption – Brazil

Delivered by Maria Eduarda Pessoa de Assis

Instituto Igarapé and CIVICUS welcome the government of Brazil’s engagement with the Universal Periodic Review process.

During the 3rd UPR cycle, the outgoing Brazilian government received 17 recommendations related to civic space. Brazil accepted all of them. However, 14 of these recommendations were not implemented and only one of them was fully implemented. Last year, our research showed that the last Brazilian government not only failed to confront restrictions on civic space, but also sponsored measures that constrained the work of Brazilian civil society.

Among the setbacks, we highlight the restriction of spaces for civil society participation in the formulation of public policies, and official attempts to tighten controls and increase surveillance of civil society.

Throughout its four-year mandate, the former Brazilian administration neglected to address reported human rights violations in cases of alleged excessive force by public agents, a critical oversight in a country known for high levels of police lethality and victimisation. The wide facilitation of access to guns and ammunition represented major setbacks for reducing Brazil’s excessive rates of violence and lethality.

We reiterate our reproval of the official use of legal and extralegal instruments to intimidate, criminalize, and silence community leaders, journalists, and human rights defenders. Such measures only amplify the threat of violence these leaders routinely confront.

In 2021 and 2022 alone, the Igarapé Institute identified 3,088 attacks on civic space in Brazil, classified by the CIVICUS Monitor as "obstructed."

Now we are living in another moment. The change of government that took place in January 2023 brings hope for new times. The new Brazilian government has committed to restoring democratic order, rebuilding the Brazilian civic space, and safeguarding, in both law and in practice, a safe environment for the action of Brazilian civil society.

In this light, we highlight the need for the new Brazilian government to establish, as recommendations, the guarantee of conditions for the execution and access to the national protection programme, and strengthening of training programs for the progressive use of force, and state capacities for investigation and accountability for violations of rights committed by state agents.

Thank you very much.

  Civic space in Brazil is rated as "Obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor