Remains of journalist Dom Phillips were found on June 18. Brazilian police is investigating the crime and has already arrested 5 suspects allegedly involved in the killing of Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira.
Phillips, who has been a regular contributor to The Guardian newspaper, was last seen at 7 a.m. on Sunday 5 June in the community of Sao Rafael, according to the Univaja association of indigenous people of Vale do Javari. He was with Indigenous affairs expert Bruno Araújo Pereira who is currently on leave from his position with Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, and is one of its most experienced employees in the Vale do Javari area.
They disappeared while returning from a two-day trip to the Jaburu Lake region, where Phillips interviewed local indigenous people, according to Univaja. Only the two of them were on the boat, the association said.
The place where they disappeared is the main access route to and from the Vale do Javari, where several thousand indigenous people live in dozens of villages. Locals say it is highly unlikely that they were lost in that sector.
Up until the time of his disappearance, Phillips was writing a book on the preservation of the Amazon with the support of the Alicia Patterson Foundation, which awarded him a year-long grant for environmental reporting that lasted until January. From his Twitter account and personal blog, Philips shared and wrote articles about the consequences of climate change in the Amazon and the impact of President Jair Bolsonaro's extractivist policies on the lives of people and the environment.
A spokesperson for Guardian News & Media said: "The Guardian is very concerned and is urgently seeking information about Mr Phillips’ whereabouts and condition. We are in contact with the British embassy in Brazil and local and national authorities to try to establish the facts as soon as possible".
Phillips, who currently resides in Salvador de Bahia, has also contributed to the Washington Post and the New York Times.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "Authorities in Brazil must do all they can to ensure the safe return of both Dom and Bruno. Our thoughts are with their worried colleagues, friends and family awaiting further information. The NUJ is liaising with the International Federation of Journalists and our sister union in Brazil. Once again, we’re calling on Brazil to recognise the safety of journalists must be protected in the country.”
Dominique Pradalié, IFJ President, said: "Journalists working for regional media in the Amazon have been murdered in recent years and we are particularly concerned about the fate of Dom Philips and and Bruno Araújo Pereira. We urge the authorities to find them as soon as possible and bring them back safely."
Maria José Braga, president of FENAJ, said: "Together with other entities that defend journalists and human rights, we call for the search to be intensified. Finding the journalist and the indigenous expert is urgent and requires maximum effort on the part of the Brazilian state".
Phillips' disappearance adds to the worrying conditions in which journalists carry out their work, highlighted in FENAJ's January report, which recorded 430 attacks on the media during 2021.