SEJ Statement of Concern on Journalist and Activist Missing in Brazil

June 10, 2022 — The Society of Environmental Journalists joins journalism organizations and many other individuals and groups in calling for Brazilian authorities to redouble their search for British freelance journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous activist Bruno Pereira, with whom Phillips was traveling on an assignment.

Image of Dominic Phillips
Photo: Dom Phillips, courtesy of APF

They have been missing since early June 5 from a remote area in the western part of Brazil’s Amazonas state. They had reportedly received death threats shortly before their disappearance.

Phillips is a 2021 Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellow who has been a contributor to The Guardian and The Washington Post.  His work has focused on the Amazon, and APF said he was conducting research for a book project there. He traveled to Amazonas with Pereira, who according to APF is a staffer on leave from the Brazilian Indigenous National Foundation.

CNN has reported that Brazilian authorities say they have detained a suspect on whose boat blood was found and have questioned five other people about the pair’s whereabouts.

“All rainforests can be dangerous,” said Jonathan Watts, the global environment editor for The Guardian and chair of the Amazon Advisory Committee of the Pulitzer Center’s Rainforest Journalism Fund. “But the Brazilian Amazon has become riskier for environmental guardians and reporters in recent years as criminal activity becomes more commonplace and tolerated by the central government and many local authorities.”

Brazil was ranked eighth on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ most recent Global Impunity Index, which identifies countries where members of the press are singled out for murder and the perpetrators go free.

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