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The Guardian

The Bruno and Dom Project

2024

The Guardian’s Bruno and Dom Project aimed to ensure that the story of the Amazon rainforest’s crime and destruction did not die with the killing of a journalist. It is considered the most extensive investigation ever conducted by an English-language newspaper on this issue.

The Guardian launched a year-long project following the tragic murders of two individuals: Bruno Araújo Pereira, a well-known defender of the rights of Brazil’s Indigenous peoples, and Dom Phillips, an esteemed journalist who had been a long-term contributor to The Guardian. The two were killed on June 5th, 2022 in the Javari Valley, a remote area of Amazonas state, while investigating reports of organised crime groups threatening rainforest defenders.

Forbidden Stories coordinated a collaborative project where 50+ journalists from 10 countries published 57 reports.

The Guardian’s 14-part series began with a striking front-page story about the ongoing threats to forest defenders in the Javari Valley. The story highlighted the alleged links between the killers and organised crime groups operating near the Peruvian border.

The Guardian published a groundbreaking exposé the next day, revealing how multinational corporations have contributed to the industrialisation of the Amazon rainforest and how much profit they have made from its destruction. This investigation was based on a database that took three researchers and four journalists six months to assemble. Over a dozen corporations were held accountable and asked for the first time if they should contribute more to protect this crucial ecosystem, which is globally significant.

The article concluded with an investigation into the innovative solutions being developed in the Amazon that could impact consumers in the UK and other foreign markets. This insightful overview was researched and written in the frontier community of Altamira, where The Guardian is the only foreign media outlet to have a staff columnist. This is a testament to their world-leading coverage of environmental issues, climate change and indigenous rights.

The Guardian carried out some groundbreaking investigations on different issues such as the Amazonian beef industry, illegal fishing gangs, and infrastructure projects. They also created interactive graphics to help readers visualise the scale of deforestation. The newspaper featured opinion pieces by an indigenous leader and the widow of a journalist named Phillips. Additionally, they published a photo essay and news about the campaign to finish the book that Phillips was working on before he died. The Guardian also exclusively shared the last images of two murdered men from a cellphone that was recovered. They also included comments from the Brazilian President Lula da Silva.

This project was very personal to many of those involved, who wanted to pay tribute to a friend and colleague who had passed away. The project aimed to acknowledge the crucial role that the Amazon rainforest plays in regulating the global climate and to raise awareness about the sacrifices made by the hundreds of environmental defenders who have lost their lives while fighting to protect the rainforest. These defenders, and sometimes the journalists who cover their stories, are on the front line of the global battle against environmental destruction.

In October 2023, three suspects accused of the murders will stand trial by jury as ruled by a judge.

"We hope you will read, reflect on and share the Bruno and Dom project, with the spirit of defiance that has inspired it. The work must go on."

Guardian editor Katharine Viner