Brazil: Campaign to Defend Against the Threats and Attacks on People’s Lawyer Dr. Ermogenes

URGENT ACTION IN DEFENSE OF BRAZILIAN PEOPLE’S LAWYER Dr. ERMOGENES

Sat Sep 20, 2014

Dr. Ermogenes Jacinto de Souza is a well-known People’s Advocate and a

member of Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers. He has spent his

professional life defending the poor peasants who have struggled for their

legitimate right to have lands in the State of Rondônia, in Brazilian

Amazon. This area of Brazil has witnessed significant number of murders

planned, ordered and executed by Landlords or their mercenaries.

 

No one forgets the murder of Renato Nathan a teacher and Élcio Machado,

Gilson Gonçalves peasants and dozens of others. The Landlords commit these

atrocities and criminal acts due to lack of rule of law and accountability

in the State of Rondônia. Murder, with total impunity is the fact of life in

Rondônia. The State authorities have failed to act. The Judiciary including

prosecutors and police have been busy dancing to the Landlord’ s tunes. They

are institutionally corrupt and server and assist the landlord to continue

their land grabbing strategies. Dr. Ermogenes have been threatened and

severely restricted in performing his duties as a lawyer.

 

The landlords’ armed mercenaries have constantly threatened him. The

Judiciary, civil servants and member of the police forces in the State of

Rondônia have repeatedly denied his legal request such as access to his

clients, disclosure of evidence and police reports and legal files and

papers. They have literally obstructed him from exercising his duties as a

lawyer. He has been prevented from representing more 20 poor peasants who

have been detained for brining legal actions against the landlords in the

region of Rondônia. Dr. Ermogenes has become extremely vulnerable over the

past three months. He has established certain facts regarding the state

corruption and the police collusion with the landlords. He found out that

specific members of the Military Police Edelvan Moura da Silva (nicknamed

Zeca Urubu), Andrade Kenio Fonseca (nicknamed Fonseca) and Fernando Alencar

Larios, had been doing private work for the landowner Nadir Jordan dos Reis.

It was revealed these officers were involved in the confiscations and land

possession against the poor peasants. He was informed that these three

officers were recently convicted of torture.

 

In spite of this they are still active members of the military police. Dr.

Ermogenes received a death threat from Edelvan . He was literally warned

that he could be eliminated at any time, unless he ceased his activities

against Mr. Reis or any of the other landowners in the region of the city of

Ariquemes. Dr. Ermogenes has brought actions and made official complaints to

the ‘National Agrarian Ombudsman’ chaired by Gercino José da Silva Filho,

and at the same time in the Special Secretariat for Human Rights of the

Presidency, chaired by Minister Ideli Salvati. The atrocities such as

unlawful arrest, torture, against the peasants, repeated shooting incidents

and police actions against those peasants who complained to the Police were

clearly raised and addressed in the ‘National Commission for Combating

Violence in the Field’ during the meeting on July 22, 2014, in Porto Velho,

with the presence of the Chief of Agrarian Civil Police, Lucena Vinicius

Tavares Bastos, and the Attorney Raphael Bevilacqua.

 

On another recent occasion, Dr. Ermogenes was unjustly admonished by Judge

Alex Balmant, from the 1st Criminal Court in the case involved 14 peasants

unjustly convicted for conspiracy. This judge repeated insinuations brought

by the police that Dr. Ermogenes allegedly urged the poor peasants to occupy

land. This is a clear violation of professional prerogatives according the

Statute of Advocacy. Dr. Ermogenes has also noted that the police have

started a new campaign of persecution, undermining his professional

reputation by spreading wild and baseless allegations against him whenever

he represents peasants who took actions against forced evictions of their

lands and wrongful arrests of their comrades peasants. Since 2000, when Dr

Ermogenes began his professional work in that region, he has been subjected

to restriction, obstructions, in his professional work.

 

He has been receiving constant death threats from the landowners and their

gunmen. In his report, he outlined the details of his persecution

orchestrated by landowners Nadir Jordan dos Reis, Jorge Chaparini, Dilson

Caldato, José de Oliveira Heringer, Cataneo and Antonio Martins dos Santos

(nicknamed Galo Velho, business owner of Leme Ventures Ltda, company that

was mentioned in the Report of Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Public

Lands in the Amazon region). Ermogenes stated that Mr. Chaparini already

insulted and threatened him with death. At another point, some armed gunmen

who work for Mr. Chaparin had tried to kidnap him in Porto Velho Court

office. To avoid being kidnapped by the gang, Dr. Ermogenes managed to

escape unharmed when he climbed the Court office wall. He reported that he

has faced many difficulties in the Porto Velho Court office because the

landlord José de Oliveira Heringer, who is also a lawyer, has an office in

the same court. In 2008, Mr. Heringer invited Dr. Ermogenes to his office to

deal with a case where both were involved.

When Dr Ermogenes reached the office, he noticed that another landlord,

Dílson Caldato, (Mr. Heringer’ s client) was waiting for him with some of his

armed men. Dr. Ermogenes clearly states in his report that he cannot work in

free and safe environment in Porto Velho and Buriti Court offices (two

cities in the state of Rondônia). He cannot work in his office due to the

fact that Heringer’ s employers informed the landlord of his presence in the

office whenever he attends his office. In addition to this, he further

stated that he has been under surveillance by The Federal Police and his

phones been tapped without judicial authorization. Dr. Ermogenes has been

recently investigated for a false allegation of racketeering by Helio Vieira

a landlord and former President of the’ Lawyers Association of Rondônia’ .

This charge was later filed without any further action.

He further stated that the Chief of Civil Police of Porto Velho, Antonio

Garção Sobral, who is also a landowner and Helio Vieira’s neighbour of Helio

Vieira, has been involved in fabricating this false accusations. It is clear

and evident that Dr. Ermogenes’ life is on stake. An urgent national and

international actions are required to stand and defend the right of those

who defends the defend less and poor oppressed people. We hereby urge the

international organisations to raise their support for Dr. Ermogenes and his

fellow lawyers in Brazil who stood for their personal and professional

integrity which is the cornerstone of any civilised society. In endorsing

this statement, the following organizations, democrats and advocates for the

rights of the people affirm their concern about the situation of Ermogenes

Jacinto de Souza and require immediate action by local, state and federal

authorities to protect his life and the legitimate exercise of his

professional activity! August 12, 2014 .

 

Brazilian Association of People’s Lawyers/ABRAPO

International Association of People’s Lawyers/IAPL .

Brazilian Center of Solidarity with the Peoples/CEBRASPO .

Torture Never More Group / Rio de Janeiro .

Lenir Correia Coelho, Legal Assistant of the Pastoral of Land Commission

(CPT) / Rondônia and Lawyer of the National Network of Popular Lawyers (RENAP)

Marilsa Miranda de Souza – Professor of Education Departament of Federal

University of Rondônia (UNIR) .

Márcio Marinho Martins – Professor of Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of Rondônia (IFRO)

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