21 October 2021

Thousand Days of Impunity - The Brumadinho Dam Collapse

21 October 2021, 3:00 pm

"A Thousand Days of Impunity" is an event to commemorate those affected by the dam break in Brumadinho, as well as a denunciation of a system that places corporate profits before people and the environment. The event will be broadcast live here, with simultaneous translation in English.

Impunity is one of the traumas that still echo from the tragic crime that stroke Brumadinho, Brazil, on 25 January 2019. On that day, a dam at an iron ore mine operated by the Brazilian mining company Vale collapsed, killing 272 people. Only four months earlier, the Brazilian subsidiary of German certifier TÜV SÜD confirmed the dam’s safety, despite known safety risks. Of the 272 victims, nine remain unfound in the sea of mud. Also the environment also still suffers from the toxic sludge: native forests have been degraded, animals killed, and large parts of the Paraopeba River remain polluted. Traditional communities who rely on the river and the land for fishing, agriculture and culture, continue to be affected to this day by violations of their rights to use these resources.

On 21 October 2021, it has been a thousand days since the dam collapsed, and the people affected are still asking: Why does impunity remain? What has been done to hold the individuals and companies that caused this tragedy accountable? What are the current judicial actions and criminal investigations on this crime?

These and other questions will be discussed by:

  • Dom Vicente, Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte
  • Danilo Chammas, People's lawyer, legal advisor of RENSER/Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte
  • Andresa Rodrigues, Mother of Bruno, victim of the dam failure, Vice President of the Association of Families of Victims and People Affected by the Córrego do Feijão Mine Dam Failure, Brumadinho (AVABRUM)
  • Armin Paasch, advisor for business and human rights, MISEREOR

The event is moderated by Marina Oliveira, Project Coordinator at RENSER/Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte

On 15 October 2019, five Brazilian relatives of victims, together with the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights and MISEREOR, filed complaints against certifier TÜV SÜD and one of its employees in Germany. The complaints are supported by the Brumadinho-based organization RENSER, which monitors investigations into the dam failure in Brazil and supports affected communities. The complaints accuse a TÜV SÜD employee of negligence in causing a flood, negligent homicide and private bribery. The company as such is also accused of violating its supervisory duties – TÜV SÜD had a duty to prevent crimes from being committed within the company. The Prosecutor's Office in Munich is currently pursuing its investigations in order to clarify the potential German criminal responsibilities in the dam break.

To date, not one person has been convicted. Impunity prevails for the mining company Vale and the German certifier TÜV SUD.

In the meantime, a so called “compensation agreement” was signed in Brazil between Vale, the Brazilian State as well as the Public Prosecutor's Office and the Public Defender's Office in Brazil. This agreement favors the company instead of providing remedy to the affected communities. After so much death and neglect, this agreement confirms that Vale shows no interest in providing a fair and integral compensation of the damage resulting from the collapse of the dam, for which it is bears a part of the responsibility.

The event is organized by RENSER, Caritas Minas Gerais, ECCHR and MISEREOR.

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