Petition for Release of MST Prisoners from Pre-trial Detention


Criminal proceedings n° 0003169-83.2016.8.16.0140 and n° 0003376-82.2016.8.16.0140

We, the undersigned supporters of the MST, have now come to the presence of Your Excellency to respectfully request the revocation of the preventive detentions which have been decreed to the detriment of members of the MST.

We understand that the MST is a lawful expression of the exercise of citizenship. To be landless is actually to work for the improvement of the living conditions of thousands of people, following what is proscribed the Constitution so that the Agrarian Reform in Brazil can take place. Unfortunately, this public policy is only effective through the mobilization of peasants, and this is the reason for the existence of rural workers' encampments in Quedas do Iguaçu and Rio Bonito do Iguaçu.

Being landless does not violate public order. It is not a crime to organize workers to protest for agrarian reform. The imputation of the crime of being a member of a criminal organization to members of a social movement, when founded solely on the fact that they belong to said movement, represents a frontal violation of the human right to freedom of expression and assembly, provided for in several international agreements to which Brazil is a signatory, among Including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Inter-American Declaration on Human Rights.

In addition, it is not legitimate to assert, without evidence, that members of the MST, because they are landless, would prevent the production of evidence in these proceedings, or that they would evade the application of criminal law.

All persons, including members of the MST, have the right to respond to the charges in freedom. Pretrial detention against members of the MST, because the charges are generic, attack the presumption of innocence. The present situation shows that the landless are treated as guilty until they can prove their innocence, contrary to what is established in the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil and in several international treaties to which the country is a signatory.

There is no legal justification for the maintenance of preventive pre-trial detention if there is a possibility of applying other precautionary measures. Additionally, all criminalized human rights defenders have family, fixed residences and lawful occupations.

So, we want Your Excellency to revoke existing pretrial detention orders against members of the MST, granting them the fundamental right to freedom of organization and demonstration, as well as the right to be considered innocent and at liberty to prove that no crime has been committed.