Dignitatis: Popular Technical Consultancy
In memory of Manoel de Matos: the struggle for human rights advocacy and protection of human rights advocates
Dignitatis’ mission is the construction, promotion, realization and reflection about human rights, democracy and peace, as processes of affirmation of the autonomy of peoples, populations, social movements and their organizations. It searches for social justice, ethnic-socio-cultural sustainable development and an egalitarian society.
Since 2003 some of the work carried out by the organization includes: assistance to CPT of Paraíba and Pernambuco (the latter, until 2006); the popular training of the “Conceição das Crioulas” Quilombo Community (2005-2007); the “Project Recognize: I Course of Popular Advocacy” (UFPB 2007); and “Extension Course for Quilombo and Indigenous communities of Paraíba” (2008). In addition, it promoted a network for preparing the reports on the human rights situation in Paraíba in 2003 and 2009.
Dignitatis sits on the State Council for Human Rights in Paraíba and is part of the National Committee of the Program on Human Rights Defenders.
The project proposed to Brazil Fund aims to stimulate the discussion and reflection about the circumstances of the murder of the human rights defender Manoel Mattos and the public policies for the protection of human rights defenders.
Through the promotion of debates with human rights institutions, governmental and international bodies, Dignitatis intends to promote a campaign for the federalization of Manoel Mattos case and the effective protection of defenders.
The organization points out that, with the Constitutional Amendment 45/2004, the Judiciary becomes the central body in the fight against institutional violence and opens the possibility of federalization of cases involving human rights violations, especially when they involve State agents, death squads and private militias, and, above all, when defenders work in the context of land and urban conflicts, fight against organized crime and other conflicts related to human rights.
The story of Manoel Mattos fits this case. The lawyer and city alderman of Itambé (PE) was executed in January 2009. He reported death squads in Pernambuco and Paraíba, and suffered death threats and attempts of murder. He sought State protection (through the national mechanisms between the years 2000-2002, and after 2003 at the international spheres – UN and OAS), but always received insufficient responses, according to Dignitatis.
The request for federalization was made by the General Attorney’s Office, with support from Dignitatis and Global Justice in the formal request.
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