Brazil: at least 6.5 million people live in favelas

Miloon Kothari, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing highlighted that the very serious situation in Brazil with respect to homelessness, landlessness, housing deficit and housing inadequacy results from the historic discrimination against the black community and indigenous people, and the marginalization of the poor.

The Special Rapporteur carried out a mission to Brazil upon the invitation of the Brazilian Government from May 30 to June 12. The purpose of the mission was evaluating the fulfilment of the right to housing in the country. On the occasion, Social Watch joined the Special Rapporteur’s visits.

The mission had a very high impact due to the disposition of all actors involved in the issue of housing and their willingness to actively participate in it.

The itinerary included visits to urban and rural areas in and around São Paulo, Brasília, Formosa, Alcântara, Rio de Janeiro, Fortaleza, Salvador, Recife, and indigenous communities in Bertioga The mission carried out meetings with civil society organizations and with municipal, state and federal government representatives, as well as public hearings in all the visited cities.

The Special Rapporteur was accompanied by the National Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Dr. Nelson Saule, who works together with civil society organizations and the State to promote a culture of human rights respect. He officiates as Ombudsman, and receives claims, systematizes and informs on the right to housing in Brazil.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report on the mission to the UN Human Rights Commission by April 2005. However, in a press conference held in Brasilia at the end of the mission, the Special Rapporteur presented his Preliminary Observations identifying the most relevant observations and recommendations, amongst which we hightlight:

• Wealth and land redistribution as well as creating national policies oriented at fulfilling the right to housing.

• Allow the release of funds that are at present tied to the debt service payment (4.5% of GNI), to meet the human rights, including housing, for the very poor.

• Guarantee to indigenous people and black population security of land tenure as well as the enjoyment of the right to free determination, among other fundamental rights.

• Adopt measures and national legislation to ensure protection against forced evictions and to ensure that such actions are carried out in strict conformity with existing international obligations.

Social Watch was present at the launching of the Campaign for the regularization of Quilombos’ lands. COHRE (Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions), the Centro de Justiça Global and Social Watch have issued a joint declaration concerning the violations of human rights suffered by these communities.

Preliminary Observations by the Special Rapporteur
Report on the Mission, by Graciela Dede Social Watch
Joint Declaration On the respect of the Quilombos communities’ human rights