Consórcio Norte Energia lawsuit (re Belo Monte dam in Brazil)

Belo Monte dam building_credit_Valter Campanato_http://memoria.ebc.com.br/agenciabrasil/galeria/2012-04-20/belo-monte

In February 2010, the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) granted a preliminary license for the construction of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in the State of Pará in Brazil to Norte Energia, a consortium of 18 partners.  In April 2010, Norte Eneriga, led by a subsidiary of a parastatal power utility company Eletrobrás, won the tender for the Belo Monte dam construction.

In March 2011, the International Labor Organization declared that the Brazilian Government violated ILO Convention 169, because it failed to hold prior consultation with the indigenous communities affected by the hydroelectric dam project.  In 2011, several NGOs filed a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of the communities affected by the dam construction.  On 1 April 2011, the Commission issued precautionary measures for Brazil citing alleged failure to consult with the indigenous communities prior to Belo Monte dam construction.

On 17 October 2011, Brasília federal district judge allowed a Public Prosecution office's lawsuit challenging the 2006 legislative decree that authorized the Belo Monte dam construction to proceed.  The lawsuit alleged that the decree violated the right of the indigenous population to prior consultation established in the ILO Convention 169 and the article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution establishing the rights of the indigenous peoples.  On 9 November 2011, the court upheld the validity of the legislative decree, ruling that prior consultations with the indigenous communities were not necessary because the dam infrastructure was not physically located on the indigenous lands.  Since 2012, the courts suspended the Belo Monte construction license several times, but all the injunctions were overturned on appeal.

On 24 November 2015, IBAMA granted Belo Monte operational license to Norte Energia despite non-compliance issues raised in IBAMA's September 2015 report.

In December 2015, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights officially opened a case against Brazil in relation to the Belo Monte dam project.  In May 2018, NGOs submitted their final arguments before the Commission. Their report alleges that the dam construction and operation caused displacement and loss of livelihoods of the indigenous and traditional communities by limiting their access to the Xingu River as a source of food, sustenance, transportation and entertainment.  According to the report, the damages suffered by the communities are due to allegedly inadequate impact assessment and lack of oversight by the Brazilian authorities, as well as Norte Energia’s failure to comply with the conditions established by the government for the dam operation.  The Commission will determine whether the alleged human rights violations occurred and may issue recommendations.  If recommendations are unfulfilled, the case may be referred to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights.

 

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Article
2 May 2018

Brazil must respond to human rights violations caused by the Belo Monte Dam

Author: AIDA

Furthering the formal complaint against the State of Brazil for human rights violations caused by the construction of the Belo Monte Dam, organizations representing affected communities presented their final arguments before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  They demonstrate the damages Belo Monte has caused to indigenous and traditional communities, and residents of Altamira, the city closest to the dam.  The report presented before the Commission shows that the damages resulted from a severe lack of foresight and inadequate evaluation, as well as from failure to comply with the conditions for operation established by the government...The report...documents the displacement of indigenous and traditional communities forced to leave their territories...Local communities now have limited use of the Xingu River as a source of food, sustenance, transportation and entertainment...The case against Brazil officially opened in December 2015...[T]he organizations and the State are required to present their final arguments, after which the Commission will make a decision...The Commission must now prepare a report to conclude whether or not human rights violations occurred as a result of the Belo Monte Dam, in which it may issue recommendations for remediation.  If those recommendations are unfulfilled, the case may be referred to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, which has the power to issue a ruling condemning Brazil.  Belo Monte has been in operation since early 2015, though a series of judicial suspensions resulting from non-compliance with its permits means that construction has yet to be completed...

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Article
+ Português - Hide

Author: Isabel Harari, Instituto Socioambiental-ISA (Brazil)

"Justiça começa a ser feita em Belo Monte-Tribunal autoriza uso de força policial para que a decisão judicial, que suspendeu a Licença de Instalação da usina, seja cumprida"

O Tribunal Regional Federal da 1ª Região (TRF1), em Brasília, suspendeu a Licença de Instalação (LI) da hidrelétrica de Belo Monte, no Pará, concedida em 2011. A decisão foi publicada no dia 20 de setembro e determina a paralisação imediata das obras até que as moradias construídas para abrigar as centenas de famílias despejadas em Altamira sejam regularizadas...A Norte Energia, empresa concessionária, ainda não cumpriu a decisão e se pronunciou alegando que como a decisão refere-se à LI não teria validade já que possuem a Licença de Operação (LO) desde novembro de 2015. Em acórdão publicado no Diário Oficial na última quarta feira (20), o TRF1 reiterou a decisão de paralisar as obras e o uso de força policial se for necessário para cumprir a ordem de suspensão. Determinou, ainda o pagamento de uma multa de R$ 100 mil por cada dia de atraso em acatar a decisão. Para a advogada do ISA, Biviany Rojas, essa determinação é importante não só para o caso de Belo Monte, mas para a credibilidade na Justiça no Brasil...[:]..."A usina foi construída enquanto a Justiça permaneceu neutralizada pelo Governo Federal por meio de suspensão de segurança...Belo Monte é um fato consumado, mas o direito de reparação das populações atingidas ainda espera por Justiça"...

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Article
7 January 2016

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights opens case against Brazil for human rights violations related to Belo Monte Dam

Author: Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, Justiça Global & Sociedade Paraense de Defesa de Direitos Humanos (SDDH)

As the first reservoirs of the Belo Monte Dam are being filled, the Brazilian government is coming under fire from international organizations. On December 21, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) opened a case against Brazil, which was challenged by affected communities represented by the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA), Justiça Global and the Sociedade Paraense de Defesa de Direitos Humanos (SDDH). After an initial review lasting four years, and several requests for fast tracking the case by the petitioners, the Commission finally determined that the petition contains sufficient grounds to open the case, which means that Brazil must respond to the claims of human rights violations caused by Belo Monte…By opening the case for processing, the Commission is using all available tools to monitor the situation surrounding Belo Monte.

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Article
5 October 2015

Brazil: Indigenous leader claims authorities are ignoring "invisible" livelihood impacts of Belo Monte dam

Author: Rodrigo Magalhaes de Oliveira, Amphibious/DeJusticia

Brazil Xingu river_credit_Amphibious Dejusticia_http://www.amphibiousaccounts.org/#!/publicaciont/30/en

“The Xingu Indigenous People and the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam, Brazil”, 4 August 2015

“Belo Monte is not just a dam; it’s much more than just that.” This was how Juma Xipaya referred to the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam, under construction in the Xingu River…in the Brazilian Amazon. Juma is a young Xipaya indigenous leader from the Tukamã village on the Iriri River, a tributary of the Xingu…Indigenous peoples and Altamira’s urban population suffer the negatives of a “development” that they will never be able to enjoy…[T]o struggle against Belo Monte meant…to struggle against the colonialist model of development, the territorial expropriation of ethnic groups, and the destruction of the rainforest and its rivers…Due to…[Juma’s]…involvement in the resistance efforts against the project, she suffered constraints and was…threatened. These events and the problems experienced by the indigenous community led her…to move to Belém…to study Law, where we met…Juma never abandoned the struggle…For her…[t]here are invisible impacts that silently evade the official studies and which…authorities ignore…[as]…changes in the way people live, the village landscape’s transformation, and the deterioration of traditional activities…“Our relatives live in a state of premeditated poverty,”… continues Juma…Authoritarianism is the only face of the state that the region’s indigenous people have known: police force that breaks up their protests, the judiciary that criminalizes them, and the licensing body that stays silent in the face of illegalities…Social movements, indigenous communities, the Public Ministry and NGOs…were able to…deconstructed the propaganda of hydroelectricity as a clean energy source, made public the violations experienced by local populations, and revealed large businesses’ interests behind the construction of the dams…

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Article
24 September 2015

Brazil: Environmental protection agency withholds license for Belo Monte dam citing failure to mitigate impacts on affected peoples' rights

Author: Bruce Douglas, The Guardian (UK)

“Brazil threatens to withhold licence for Belo Monte dam over mitigation worries-Without an operating licence the hydroelectric plant will stand unused but projects to limit the impact on the local community remain incomplete”, 23 September 2015

Brazil’s controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric plant is facing another setback after the country’s environmental protection agency, Ibama, threatened to withhold an operating licence until the consortium which built the dam completes mitigation projects in the area to be affected. Without the operating licence, Norte Energia…is banned from flooding Belo Monte’s reservoir. Without the water in the reservoir, the turbines of the world’s third-largest hydroelectric power plant…will remain unused. Brazil’s national human rights council voted unanimously to advise Ibama…to withhold the licence over Norte Energia’s grave violations of human rights and failure to comply with the terms of its contract…Ibama said it would withhold the licence until the consortium had completed mitigation projects it had promised. Environmental campaigners welcomed the decision. “If Ibama is serious about the consortium implementing all the conditionalities of the project, we could be in for a significant delay,” said Brent Millikan,…of…International Rivers. But Norte Energia insisted that the Ibama order was not a rejection of its application but rather a call for the company to provide proof of the projects it had undertaken to compensate the local community for the impact of the dam…Ibama listed 12 areas which “threatened the issuance of the operating licence”, including Norte Energia’s failure to “conclude the relocation of the population based in the area directly affected [by the dam], especially … the residents of the islands and banks of the Xingu river”…

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Article
24 September 2015

Brazil: Intl. Rivers welcomes move & calls on firm to compensate affected people

Author: Brent Millikan, International Rivers

“Press Release | Breaking News: Brazil’s Environmental Agency Denies Operating License to Controversial Belo Monte Dam”, 23 September 2015

…[T]he Brazilian press reported that the…Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama)…[has]… temporarily denied Norte Energia’s request for an operating license for Belo Monte Dam, citing serious examples of non-compliance with legally required measures to mitigate and compensate project impacts. Without the license, Norte Energia can’t close floodgates and fill a reservoir that will flood large portions of the city of Altamira before it begins generating power. In response to Ibama’s announcement, International Rivers released the following statement…Brent Millikan: “…We have to give Ibama due credit for this move,…coming after a long history of negligence...[and]…finally acknowledging…that Norte Energia is not complying with project conditionalities and doing something about it…People’s rights have been steamrolled and livelihoods have been devastated. But the Brazilian government has invested billions…into this project,…they’re not going to pack up and go home…[W]hat can be done to minimize the damage?...Ibama needs to hold firm to this decision and…compensate the people who’ve been forcibly displaced and whose livelihoods have been devastated. The Brazilian government…needs…to protect indigenous territories,…under…pressure from illegal logging and mining…[and]…address the impending consequences for indigenous peoples, fishermen and other local populations…

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Article
30 July 2015

Brazil: Federal Attorney’s Office says it will sue Consórcio Norte Energia for allegations of ethnocide of indigenous people for resisting the Belo Monte dam construction

Author: Mario Osava, IPS/ Envolverde/Terramérica

“Indigenous People in Brazil’s Amazon – Crushed by the Belo Monte Dam?”, 16 July 2015

…Ethnocide, the new accusation leveled against the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam, brings to light deeper underlying aspects of the conflicts and controversies unleashed by megaprojects in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Federal prosecutor Thais Santi announced that legal action would be taken “in the next few weeks” against Norte Energía, the company building the dam, on the argument that its initiatives to squelch indigenous resistance amount to ethnocide…Belo Monte has been the target of numerous complaints and lawsuits that sought to halt the construction process. The company has been accused of failing to live up to the measures required by the government’s environmental authority to mitigate or compensate for impacts caused by the hydropower complex on the Xingú River…The 22 lawsuits brought by the public prosecutor’s office failed to halt work on the dam. But they managed to secure compliance with several environmental requisites…In a Jun. 29 report, the non-governmental Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) said the conditions were not in place for the government to issue the final operating permit to allow Belo Monte to fill its reservoirs and begin generating electricity in early 2016. ISA…said that many of the 40 initial requisites…have not yet been fulfilled. Protection of indigenous territories is one of the conditions that have not been met, as reflected in the increase of illegal logging and poaching by outsiders, it said. Norte Energía argues that it has invested 68 million dollars to benefit the roughly 3,000 people in 34 villages in the 11 indigenous territories in the Belo Monte zone of influence…

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Article
25 June 2015

Brazil: Munduruku indigenous leader speaks at UN Human Rights Council about violence & lack of consultation on dams

Author: Bruce Douglas, The Guardian (UK)

Munduruku UN HRs Council_credit_Movimento Xingu Vivo Para Sempre_http://www.xinguvivo.org.br/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Felicio-e-Ademir-na-Onu.jpg 

“Brazilian indigenous leader to address UN council in effort to stop dam-Ademir Kaba Munduruku will argue Brazil is violating indigenous rights by failing to consult them about the hydroelectric project on the river Tapajós”, 24 June 2015

...[A]ccording to...Ademir Kaba Munduruku [,]...an indigenous leader...[who addressed]...the 29th United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on...[24 June 2015],...the Brazilian government failed to consult affected communities ahead of its construction of the Belo Monte dam, and...it is repeating this failure over its plans for another dam across the river Tapajós...[T]he Munduruku people had handed the government a protocol establishing the terms of a consultation process in January, but it had yet to receive a response…[He]…accused the government of a disproportionate use of force – including a police raid…in 2012 during which the indigenous leader Adenilson Kirixi Munduruku was shot dead…“If the government does not engage in dialogue with us…, we are prepared to die to stop the building of this dam,” he said...[He]…will also hold talks with representatives of European companies who are involved in the Brazilian government’s development of the Amazon basin, including EDF, GDF Suez and Alstrom…[He]…is being accompanied by Felício Pontes,…prosecutor…who has filed numerous lawsuits over the government’s violation of human rights and environmental legislation in its development of the Amazon basin....Brazil’s...government body responsible for the consultation process...said: “The...government will guarantee the right to prior consultation with the Munduruku people, as set out in ILO Convention 169, for the realisation of the Tapajós hydroelectric project.”

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Article
16 June 2015

Brazil: Prosecutors claim that Belo Monte dam puts livelihood of 2,000 families at risk

Author: Associated Press in Sao Paulo/The Guardian

Belo Monte dam building_credit_Valter Campanato_http://memoria.ebc.com.br/agenciabrasil/galeria/2012-04-20/belo-monte

“Brazil's Belo Monte dam puts livelihood of 2,000 families at risk, prosecutors say-Federal prosecutors say Norte Energia, the consortium building the $11bn dam, has violated agreed-to items that are endangering locals’ means of survival”, 16 June 2015

Construction of a massive hydroelectric dam is endangering the livelihoods of at least 2,000 families in Brazil’s Amazon jungle state of Para, according to federal prosecutors who recommend that efforts to move the residents be suspended. The federal prosecutors’ office said in a statement Monday that the Norte Energia consortium that is building the $11bn Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River has violated 55 previously agreed-to items to guarantee indigenous groups, farmers and fishermen their means of survival. A report based on the prosecutors’ investigation will be sent to Norte Energia. Neither Norte Energia nor the federal government had immediate comment on the prosecutors’…The government has said Belo Monte will be a source of clean, renewable energy…[,]…fundamental for the economic development of the region and country…[and]…designed to minimize environmental damage. But environmentalists and indigenous groups say it would devastate wildlife and their livelihoods.

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Article
11 September 2013

Indigenous rights controversies around Belo Monte consume Brazilian judicial system [Brazil]

Author: Amazon Watch, International Rivers, Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA)

… Recent lawsuits by Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutors (MPF) concerning the Belo Monte dam are demanding accountability from the dam-building Norte Energia consortium, Brazil’s National Development Bank (BNDES), and the state environmental agency IBAMA for noncompliance with mandated mitigation measures concerning the Juruna and Xikrin Kayapó, two indigenous groups affected by the mega-project…The Federal Court of Pará State responded this week by giving Norte Energia 60 days to purchase the Juruna land and deliver health care or face daily fines of R$200,000 (US$87,000)…Antonia Melo, coordinator of the Xingu Alive Forever Movement...[said:] “There is no fresh water, no electricity, no health care, no schools and no sanitation... IBAMA must suspend construction…until these conditions are met ."...

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