Development and Peace is concerned by recent allegations regarding illegal surveillance and infiltration of groups defending human rights in Brazil

June 10, 2013

Development and Peace is concerned about the situation of Brazilian human rights defenders who have been victims of the less than transparent machinations of the VALE mining company, the largest iron extraction company and second largest mining company in the world.

In March of 2013, very serious allegations emerged concerning illegal spying and infiltration of social movements by VALE secret-service agents in collaboration with the Brazilian intelligence agency (ABIN). The social movements and community organizations targeted by illegal spying and infiltration have been actively organizing around getting VALE to respect human rights and become a better corporate citizen, and all of them are partners or allies of Development and Peace in Brazil.

The activities of the mining company have negative impacts on local communities. They speak of forced displacements, damaged homes, broken communities, serious health problems, and environmental pollution, among other serious consequences. In addition, when the company was privatized in 1997, its reserves were undervalued by 74%, and the final selling price was 28 times less than the company’s worth, causing billions of dollars to be drained from the public coffers.

For all these reasons, numerous socials movements, non-governmental organizations, and community groups in urban and rural areas have been organizing and demanding that their rights be respected, their communities be protected, their suffering be abated, and compensation be provided for their suffering and loss. And many are demanding that the company resettle them in healthy environments, where they can once again breathe unpolluted air, have access to clean water, and produce wholesome food. VALE, unfortunately, refuses to compensate communities affected by its mining activities, despite the large profits that it makes.

More than a month has gone by, and the Brazilian government has done nothing to shed light on this matter. Development and Peace believes it is imperative for the appropriate authorities to launch an investigation into any wrongdoing by VALE employees, civil servants, and public agencies, and to put an end to the intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders, whose lives are at risk for their social justice work.

Development and Peace and other civil society organizations sent a letter to the president of Brazil, Dilma Roussef, demanding a thorough and transparent investigation regarding alleged spying activities by the mining company.