WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas

AP/Eraldo Peres

12 Jan 2023 | Joint Statement

International Mission of Human Rights Specialists Calls for Swift Action to Prevent Further Unrest that Undermines Democracy in Brazil

The members of the International Mission of Human Rights Specialists vehemently condemn the acts of violence, attacks against the press and invasion, damage and looting that took place in government buildings in Brasilia on January 8 by Bolsonaro supporters and organized extreme right groups who refuse to accept the outcome of the 2022 Presidential election.

The attacks on the Presidential Palace, the Supreme Court and the Brazilian Congress are to be condemned but they are not surprising. For years, Brazilian experts and observers have been raising the alarm that actions taken by Jair Bolsonaro and his supporters, the deliberate dissemination of false information, and a rupture in civic engagement based on respecting political differences could lead to a violent result and/or discredit the country’s very orderly electoral process.

This effort to destabilize democracy in Brazil appears to follow the playbook of the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Organizers, perpetrators and financial backers of these actions should be investigated, prosecuted and put in jail. Politicians, religious leaders and relevant social actors should work to discourage such actions from taking place. Furthermore, Mission members support the collective work of Brazilian society to face the rise of far-right political and violent groups, which use the deliberate dissemination of false information, and generate political ruptures that increase the risk of violence and disrespect for the democratic rule of law and its institutions.

The mission visited Sao Paulo and Brasilia between September 28 and October 3, 2022, to follow the electoral process in the country. Our members include: Remo Carlotto (Executive Director of the MERCOSUR Institute for Public Policy on Human Rights – IPPDH), Dolores Gandulfo (Director of the Electoral Observatory of the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean – COPPPAL), James Green (Professor of Brazilian History and Culture at Brown University, USA), Carolina Jiménez Sandoval (President of the Washington Office on Latin America – WOLA), and Gimena Sánchez-Garzoli (Brazil Officer at the Washington Office on Latin America – WOLA). Herta Däubler-Gmelin, former Minister of Justice of Germany, collaborated with the group remotely.

The main focus of the mission was to monitor the human rights situation, in line with international standards. After the visit, we alerted the public to the fact that politically motivated acts of threats, physical aggression and assassinations had taken place within the electoral context. We urged authorities to investigate, prosecute and hold the perpetrators of such violence to account in order to prevent further obstructions against the democratic process. While the political transition in Brazil has taken place and a new President was inaugurated on January 1, false information and false claims against the electoral system and the elections remain. As a result, Brazil authorities and society are encouraged to address this matter swiftly to minimize a snowballing of the political discontent that leads to further violence.