Witness to Pau D’Arco Massacre Murdered in Brazil

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor on Monday called for the murder of Fernando dos Santos Araujo not to go unpunished.

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On Jan. 26, Dos Santos Araujo was found shot in the head at his home in the state of Para. Previously, on May 24, 2017, he survived an assault by security forces on the Santa Lucia farm in the Pau D’Arco Municipality, where ten farmers occupying the land were killed.

“The fact that yet another human rights defender has been killed in Para… shows a disturbing pattern of impunity,” Lawlor lamented.

She also recalled that the victim’s lawyer Jose Vargas Sobrinho has also been threatened and has suffered a smear campaign for his work to bring justice.

The meme reads, “Witness to the Pau D’Arco massacre was threatened before being killed… Fernando dos Santos Araujo intended to leave the lot where he lived the day after he was killed.”

“Even with constant threats and intimidation from local actors, both continued to speak out courageously on behalf of the survivors and to demand justice for the victims of the massacre,” the UN rapporteur said.

“If this tragic murder goes unpunished, it would set a worrying precedent for the defense of human rights,” she warned.

Although there had been some progress in the Pau D’Arco investigation, many questions remain unanswered. “The investigation into those responsible for the crime has not been completed and officers allegedly involved in the crime have been reinstated to their functions and remain active,” Lawlor said.

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