Laísa Santos Sampaio and her family face death threats for protecting the Amazon.


Laísa Santos, a mother of eight and a school teacher, has been at the forefront of her community’s opposition to the destruction of the Amazon rain forest in Pará state, Brazil. 

With her local women’s artisan project (Grupo de Trabalhadoras Artesanais Extrativistas), Laísa promotes sustainable development and advocates against illegal logging in her region. Their opposition to logging has placed project members at considerable risk in a region in which illegal exploitation of the forest is commonplace and where there are continued killings and attacks against those who defend the Amazon.

Laísa and her family has been the target of several death threats and attacks. 
Between 2011 and 2012, at least 20 people, including Laísa Santos’ sister and brother-in-law – Maria and José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva – were killed because of their campaigning on environmental issues and against illegal logging in the region.  

The person accused of ordering their deaths was not arrested and Laísa believes he is one of the people who continue to threaten her.

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Human Rights Defenders in the Americas

Laísa is not alone. Her story is symbolic of a broader problem of activists threatened across the region, particularly for their environmental campaigning. 

Human rights defenders in the Americas play a vital role in exposing and combating human rights violations. Many have paid a high price for their courageous efforts to break cycles of injustice, discrimination and impunity. In the past few years, hundreds have been persecuted and attacked.

Despite the lack of effective protection for themselves and their families and widespread impunity, they continue their struggle – transforming pain into hope.Laísa Santos Sampaio and other human rights defenders working in the Amazon are at risk.

Support them by urging the Brazilian government to publicly recognize their legitimate human rights work, investigate attacks against them and provide effective protection.

More you can do

  1. Promote this action to your friends and family! Share, tweet and like Laísa's story on social media. 
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  2. Send a message of support and solidarity. Mail your letter to Amnesty International, 312 Laurier Avenue East, Ottawa ON K1N 1H9.
  3. Share our "Lifesaver" action for Laisa with parents and educators, and invite children and you to send a letter or leaf drawing to boost her spirits.

Add your name, contact details and an optional personal comment about this case, then click Sign Petition Now to add your voice.

Dear Governor Simäo Robison Oliveira Jatene,

Laísa Santos Sampaio, a schoolteacher and environmental activist from the Praia alta Piranheira settlement, Pará State, has been repeatedly threatened and fears for her life. Two members of her immediate family were killed in 2011, following similar threats.

She is one of scores of human rights defenders working in the Amazon to defend the forest’s ecosystem, communities and livelihoods in the face of violence. Meanwhile illegal loggers, charcoal producers, ranchers and land grabbers operate with impunity.

Please act immediately to:
  • effectively protect Laísa Santos Sampaio
  • thoroughly investigate all threats against her
  • address the entrenched criminality that lies behind such violence and protect communities at risk.

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