Brazil’s top court shelves Indigenous land case, no new date set
Indigenous groups say Brazilian Supreme Court decision will be critical as they seek to defend ancestral land rights.
The high-profile case was suspended on Wednesday after one of the Supreme Court justices asked for more time [Adriano Machado/Reuters]
15 Sep 2021
Brazil’s Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended a high-profile land rights case that Indigenous people in the South American nation say is vital for their survival, with no new date for when it will revisit the matter.
The top court is weighing whether a state government applied an overly narrow interpretation of Indigenous rights by only recognising tribal lands occupied by Indigenous communities at the time Brazil’s constitution was ratified in 1988.
Indigenous rights groups say the rule was unconstitutional because there was no timeframe in the 1988 constitution, which guaranteed the right to ancestral lands.
The case was suspended after one of the justices, Alexandre De Moraes, asked for more time.
As things stand, two members of the 11-member court have ruled so far, with one justice in favour of a cut-off date for land claims, while another has voted to end the timeframe.
A defeat in court for the Indigenous people would set a precedent for the rollback of native rights that President Jair Bolsonaro has sought [Adriano Machado/Reuters]
The government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro draws support from the agricultural sector, which broadly defends the timeframe. It argues the time framework gave legal security to farmers, many of whom have lived for decades on land once inhabited by Indigenous people.