Amazon NGO set up in memory of British reporter murdered in rainforest

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 2:29 AM

By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Two years after poachers murdered British journalist Dom Phillips in a remote corner of the Amazon, an NGO has been created in his memory to promote the protection of the rainforest he loved and its people, his widow said.

Phillips, 57, was working on a book on how to save the Amazon when he and his Brazilian travel partner were shot dead by illegal fishermen next to the Javari Valley, home to isolated tribes on the border with Peru.

“If people could see the beauty and potential of the Amazon, and the wisdom of its Indigenous people, they would naturally want to protect the Amazon biome,” he’d say after his trips into the rainforest, according to his widow Alessandra Sampaio.

“The Dom Phillips Institute will be a platform to broadcast the voices of the Amazon people around the world, to give them visibility and also give them security,” she said on Sunday.

Phillips, who wrote for the British newspaper The Guardian as well as the Washington Post, was traveling with Bruno Pereira, an expert on isolated Indigenous groups who was working to expose environmental crimes in the Javari Valley.

On June 5, 2022 they were shot dead on a river while leaving the area. Their dismembered bodies were located in the forest after a fisherman confessed involvement to police.

The Javari Valley is home to the world’s largest number of isolated Indigenous communities, as well as cocaine-smuggling gangs and illegal hunting and fishing rackets.

Police said the murders were planned by a gang leader because Pereira was investigating and photographing illegal fishing, causing losses to the criminal group. Four people have been charged with homicide and concealment of bodies.

“The investigation is advancing well. I am confident that justice will be done,” Sampaio said by telephone.

Beto Marubo, an Indigenous leader from the Javari Valley, said the NGO will continue the work of “a journalist who did his best to draw attention to the climate issue, the setbacks in environmental policies and the destruction of the Amazon”.

A group of journalists collaborated to complete Phillips’ unfinished book “How to Save the Amazon: Ask the People Who Know”. It highlights the work of those who live there and shows how best to protect and regenerate the rainforest.

The book will be published in April 2025 by Manilla Press, an imprint of publisher Bonnier Books.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; editing by Mark Heinrich)