John Kerry commits to look into case of missing British journalist in Brazil

Dom Phillips, a Guardian contributor, was last seen on Sunday morning travelling with Indigenous expert Bruno Araújo Pereira

The US climate envoy John Kerry has committed to pursuing the facts behind the disappearance of a veteran Guardian contributor and a celebrated Indigenous expert in the Brazilian Amazon.

Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira were last seen on Sunday morning travelling by boat through the remote Javari Valley, a region plagued by violence involving illegal fishermen, illegal loggers, drug traffickers and security forces.

Kerry, a former US secretary of state, appears shocked at details of the case recounted by the Brazilian Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara in a WhatsApp video of the encounter seen by the Guardian.

“We will follow up with you,” he says in the video, before telling his assistant to take more details.

The exchange happened at a ceremony on Tuesday honouring Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2022, one of whom was Guajajara.

However, in a second WhatsApp video from the event, Guajajara said: “Unfortunately, I can’t even celebrate or commemorate being on this list because I have to lament … the disappearance of Indigenous activist Bruno and journalist Dom Phillips who have vanished, simply vanished, and no one knows where they are.

“The search is so slow, and it is pitiful that we continue to live in a situation where there is no security,” she continued.

“We need for authorities to take a position, and start to actively look for them in a responsible manner. I wanted to come here to New York to denounce this situation to the world so that everyone’s attention is on this situation and on the permanent violence that Indigenous peoples and our supporters are constantly facing. That is all. We will continue to fight.”

Dom Phillips, right, travelling with guide Bruno Araújo Pereira.
Dom Phillips, right, travelling with guide Bruno Araújo Pereira. Photograph: Gary Calton/The Observer

Brazilian police on Tuesday opened a criminal investigation into the disappearance of the men, who had reportedly been threatened.

Phillips’s sister Sian called on the UK and US governments to lobby Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who is due to meet his US counterpart, Joe Biden, at this week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles, to do more.

“He’s not going to do anything without having pressure put on him,” Phillips said of the Brazilian leader, whose presidency has overseen soaring deforestation and the dismantling of environmental protection agencies and laws.

In his first official comments on the disappearance, Bolsonaro on Tuesday criticised what he called an inadvisable “adventure”.

“Quite frankly, two people in just one boat, in that kind of region, absolutely wild, is an adventure that isn’t recommendable for anyone. Anything might happen. It could have been an accident. They could have been executed,” he added, prompting immediate outrage.

Contributors

Arthur Neslen and Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Missing British journalist’s wife pleads with Brazil to find ‘love of my life’
Alessandra Sampaio, whose husband Dom Phillips was last seen in the Amazon on Sunday, makes appeal in tearful video message

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

08, Jun, 2022 @10:27 AM

Article image
‘Every second counts’: wife of British journalist missing in Amazon urges action
Alessandra Sampaio, wife of Dom Phillips, tells Brazilian authorities: ‘Please answer the urgency of the moment with urgent actions’

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

07, Jun, 2022 @12:07 AM

Article image
Hopes fade of finding missing men as Brazilian police report finding ‘apparently human’ material
Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, missing for more than five days, had failed to show up in Atalaia do Norte at the end of a reporting trip

Andrew Downie in São Paulo

10, Jun, 2022 @10:59 PM

Article image
Brazil Indigenous agency staff strike over Bruno Pereira disappearance
Employees walk off the job amid anger over statements criticising the former Funai employee who went missing with Dom Phillips

Andrew Downie in São Paulo

14, Jun, 2022 @7:00 PM

Article image
Fears for safety of British journalist missing in Brazilian Amazon
Dom Phillips disappeared on a trip to one of the remotest corners of the Amazon days after receiving threats

Tom Phillips in Rio de Janeiro

06, Jun, 2022 @5:32 PM

Article image
Bruno Pereira: the dedicated defender of Indigenous rights missing in Brazil
Indigenous expert last seen travelling with British journalist Dom Phillips was ousted from official role after Bolsonaro took office

Andrew Downie in São Paulo and Caio Barretto Briso in Rio de Janeiro

08, Jun, 2022 @1:52 PM

Article image
Brazilian police say ‘no evidence of crime’ in search for missing journalist
Police detain man on drugs and weapons charges but say too early to link arrest directly to disappearance in Amazon of Dom Phillips

Andrew Downie in São Paulo, Caio Barretto Briso in Rio de Janeiro and Tom Phillips in Tabatinga

08, Jun, 2022 @10:47 PM

Article image
Indigenous groups scour forests and rivers for Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira
Indigenous activists have been searching for the missing pair since just hours after they vanished, with support from armed members of the military police

Tom Phillips on the River Itaquaí

10, Jun, 2022 @2:12 PM

Article image
Dom Phillips: editors around world urge Bolsonaro to do more to find missing journalist
Media organisations call on Brazil’s president to step up efforts to find Phillips and Indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira

Andrew Downie in São Paulo and Tom Phillips in Tabatinga

09, Jun, 2022 @9:30 AM

Article image
Pelé joins calls for Brazil to step up search for pair missing in Amazon
Three-time World Cup winner joined sports, culture and media figures in calling for action over Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira

Andrew Downie in São Paulo and Caio Barretto Briso in Rio de Janeiro

08, Jun, 2022 @5:50 PM