Journalist Dom Philips and his Brazilian colleague, Bruno Pereira, have disappeared in a remote area of the Amazon jungle.
Phillips is a 57-year-old British freelancer who contributed reports to the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, and more.
Since 2018, Pereira and Phillips have been participating in expeditions to the Amazon to report on problems related to local indigenous tribes for The Guardian.
When Were They Last Seen?
The two were last seen Sunday morning, May 5, and the worst is now feared about their fates.
They were last sighted in the community of São Rafael, in Brazil’s northwestern Javari Valley. The Javari Valley Indigenous Lands have often been invaded by prospectors, loggers, hunters, and fishermen looking to exploit its resources.
Philips is a correspondent and experienced journalist who is researching and writing a book called “How to Save the Amazon,” with the support of the Alicia Patterson Foundation.
Phillips grew up in Bebington, a town five miles south of Liverpool, England.
He’s lived in the Brazilian city of Salvador for seven years with his wife, Alessandra Sampaio, and increased his trips to research the abuses going on in the Amazon against the native people.
In Brazil, Phillips spent many years working as a freelancer for the British newspaper The Guardian. He’s also written for the Washington Post, New York Times, Financial Times, and The Intercept.
I've learned additional details in the disappearance of my friend, journalist Dom Phillips.
I'm devastated to report, however, that there is increasing reason to believe the worst, and that they were attacked and disappeared in the forest.https://t.co/ZJqOQXmA1M
— Terrence McCoy (@terrence_mccoy) June 7, 2022
Appeals From Friends and Family
Last week, Phillips posted a video on Instagram in which he declared his passion for the Amazon. Paul Sherwood, Philips’ brother-in-law, made an appeal on Twitter for Brazilian authorities to do everything they could to find Phillips.
Sherwood emphasized Phillips’ love for Brazil and his focus on the Amazon and the Indigenous peoples who live there is clear to everyone who knows him.
His desperate wife, Alessandra Sampaio, wrote a letter and recorded a video in which she made an appeal for the government to step up the search for the missing.
Sampaio called for urgency in the search, which has been going on since May 6 with police and armed forces, along with helicopters.
Nonetheless, some leftists in Brazil and the US are politicizing this, saying Brazil’s pro-Trump leader, Jair Bolsonaro, isn’t doing enough to find Phillips and blaming him for the industrial activity in the Amazon.
This is a really grim article on the courageous British journalist missing in the Amazon while reporting on lawless invasion by industry interests, @domphillips, and a stark reminder of the real dangers journalists face who do this kind of dangerous but vital work: https://t.co/o49o4f9J4U
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 7, 2022
The Search Continues, But the Worst is Feared
The governor of Amazon, Wilson Lima, said on Twitter he already sent agents to the site of the disappearance and they will do everything to find the duo.
Melanie Hopkins, in charge of Business at the British Embassy in Brazil, said in a Twitter post the Embassy is following the case and is in contact with local authorities.
The worst is now feared, however, as Phillips and Pereira were reportedly threatened for their uncovering of illegal mining and resource operations in the area.
Two suspects were arrested on May 6 in connection to the disappearance and remain being held in custody in Atalaia do Norte, Amazon state, where the investigation continues.