13 November 2009
The President of Brazil (R) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (L) discuss the human rights situation in Brazil
Between 8 and 13 November 2009, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, visited for the first time in Brazil. “I am visiting Brazil shortly after the announcement that the country will host the 2016 Olympic Games, as well as the World Cup in 2014. I want to emphasize that, while under the global spotlight, Brazil should take every opportunity to advocate worldwide the human rights it champions at home”, said Pillay when she arrived in the country.
Her visit began in Salvador, capital of the state of Bahia, on 8 November, where Pillay visited the main tourist attractions of the city. The following morning she visited the Quilombo (a community founded by runaway slaves) in the municipality of Nilo Peçanha and met the Vice-Governor of the state of Bahia, Edmundo Pereira Santos and had the first of her meetings with members of the civil society.
In Rio de Janeiro, where Ms. Pillay arrived on the morning of 10 November, she met with the State Governor Sergio Cabral and other authorities and went to community of Dona Marta, with the Minister of Social Equality, Edson Santos. "What I observed here in Dona Marta, is that the community is struggling to improve the situation of human rights. And I see that they have, to a certain extent, received support from the authorities”, said Pillay following the visit to the Rio slum.
On 11 November, Ms. Pillay went to Brasilia, where she met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and other officials. At the Brazilian capital, Pillay participated at the opening ceremony of the IV National Seminar to Protect Human Rights Defenders and also signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will expand the cooperation between the Government of Brazil and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
At her final statement, Pillay alerted the authorities to the need for investment in infrastructure for the World Cup and the Olympics in order to bring lasting benefits to the population. “The money can be spent on sports and cultural facilities that broaden the options for poor children and youths. It can be spent on public transport systems that will help the inhabitants of favelas travel to places of employment long after the World Cup and Olympics are over”, she said.
During the time of her visit she was accompanied by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Rio de Janeiro Director who assisted the High Commissioner on all media-related matters. The Centre was also responsible for producing press releases in Portuguese, scheduling interviews, placing op-eds and organizing a press conference at the end of the visit. UNIC Rio hosted an NGO meeting at its premises in Rio and supported the production of the PSA on Human Rights Day 2009 which was entirely filmed in Brazil.