According to media reports, he and Bruno Araujo Pereira, an expert on the country’s indigenous people, traveled by boat on the Itaquai River in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, known in recent years for increasing violence by illegal fishermen, loggers and drug dealers. The two men were last seen alive on June 5.
Police said on Friday that human remains recovered from an isolated forest belonged to Mr. Phillips. A fisherman this week admitted to killing the journalist and his companion, police said and took investigators to an isolated location where the remains are buried.
Authorities said on Saturday that there was another set of human remains belonging to Pereira. Both were shot, they said. At least two men have been detained and police expect more arrests soon.
Mr. Phillips, a former music journalist in England, has lived in Brazil since 2007. He learned Portuguese and married a Brazilian woman and has lived in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and most recently in El Salvador, the capital of the northeastern state of Bahia.
He was a universal reporter who wrote about politics, poverty and cultural development in Brazil. As a contributor to The Post from 2014 to 2016, he covered the country’s preparations for the 2016 FIFA World Cup and Summer Olympics. He later examined whether the Games had brought lasting benefits to Rio de Janeiro.
“Three months after the success of the Summer Olympics, Brazil’s cultural center should grow,” he wrote in The Post. “Instead, it is a financial, political and criminal mess.
Mr. Phillips was particularly attracted by the plight of Brazil’s natural world and the indigenous people living deep in the Amazon rainforest. He travels across the country to report on deforestation as farmers and other commercial interests destroy vast tracts of Brazil’s once-dense rainforest. He was in charge The Guardian investigation of large-scale livestock farms established on cleared forest lands.
“Home is one of the most ethical and courageous journalists I know,” Andrew Fishman, a Brazilian-based American reporter, told the Latin American news agency CE Noticias Financieras. “He has always been extremely strict in his work and perceptive in his analysis.”
In 2019, Mr. Phillips asked President Jair Bolsonaro about deforestation in the province. Bolsonaro, who prefers mining and other commercial developments, said: “First, you need to understand that the Amazon belongs to Brazil, not you.”
A video of the exchange became a sensation among Bolosanaro’s supporters, who used it to promote their view that the president was being attacked by the media.
“Home was very shocked by this video,” Fishman said. “He felt that this put a target on his back and made his job difficult.
In 2018, Mr. Phillips joined Pereira and photographer Gary Culton on a 17-day trip in the Amazon – almost 600 miles by boat and 45 miles on foot – while Pereira, then a civil servant, tried to make contact with isolated indigenous groups.
“While squatting in the mud by the fire,” he said. Phillips wrote in an exciting story for the Guardian: “Bruno Pereira, an employee of the Brazilian government’s local government agency, smashes a monkey’s boiled skull with a spoon and eats her brain for breakfast while discussing politics.”
Mr. Phillips called some of the people he met, “the ninjas of this forest, [who] are as protected from it as they are at home in it. They hunt piranhas and hunt, slaughter and cook birds, monkeys, sloths and wild boars to eat. ”
When a local man was asked if agricultural development and production should be allowed in indigenous territories, he said: “No. We take care of our land. ”
Mr. Phillips returned to the Havari Valley several times to conduct research on a book tentatively entitled How to Save the Amazon. He received a grant from the Alicia Patterson Foundation to help take over his reports.
In recent years, the region has become increasingly dangerous, with more than 150 environmental activists killed in Brazil between 2009 and 2020, according to a Latin American journalism project. Tiera de Resistentes.
After Mr. Phillips and Pereira did not appear at a scheduled meeting on June 5, locals said a boat was seen following them.
Mr. Phillips’ wife, Alessandra Sampaio, called on the Brazilian government to take swift action to find her husband and Pereira. Brazilian celebrities, including football star Pele, have joined the public request. News organizations such as The Post, The Guardian and the New York Times, all of which Phillips wrote about – he launched an open letter urging the Brazilian government to “urgently step up efforts and provide full resources” to find the men.
When Bolsonaro was informed of their disappearance, he seemed to assume that they were to blame.
“Anything can happen,” he said. “It may have been an accident. They may have been executed. “
Once their remains were discovered, Bolsonaro said “This Englishman was not liked in the region. … He had to more than double the precautions he was taking. And instead he decided to go on a trip.
The statement sparked protests in Brazil and abroad.
“The victims are not to blame,” one of Bolsonaro’s political opponents, Orlando Silva, tweeted.
Dominic Mark Phillips was born on July 23, 1964 in Bebington, a town near Liverpool in the Merseyside area of northwest England. He left college to travel in the 1980s and lived in Israel, Greece, Denmark and Australia, taking on strange jobs, including picking fruit, working as a cook and cleaning a meat factory.
He became a fan of a form of electronic dance music called house, and in the late 1980s helped found an art magazine in Bristol, England. He moved to London in 1990 and worked as editor-in-chief at Mixmag, a magazine that chronicles house music. He coined the term “progressive house” to describe “a new breed of hard but melodic, shaky but thoughtful, inspiring and trance British house”.
He left the publication in 1999 to produce documentaries and music videos. In 2009, he published “DJ Superstars Here We Go!“A book described in a Guardian review as ‘partly a memoir of his day, reflecting clubs and after-parties laden with champagne, vodka, cocaine and ecstasy.’
Mr. Phillips first visited Brazil in 1998. After settling there nine years later, he largely renounced his customs until late at night and often got up before dawn to row upright on waterways.
“On one level it’s like Europe or America,” he said in an interview with DMCWorld in 2008. On the other hand, it’s very different – like entering a mirror world where everything looks the same, but it’s actually head down, back, back and forth, whatever. … The best thing about the country is the people – they are really open, friendly and positive. They love music. Rich or poor, they do their best to get the most out of life.
Apart from his wife, his sister and brother survived.
Mr. Phillips turned down several prestigious job offers, preferring to stay in Brazil as a freelance writer, contributing to the Financial Times, Bloomberg News and football magazines. He was well known among international journalists and taught English and volunteered in slums.
“He likes to see the impact of his work on people’s lives,” Cecilia Oliveira, founder of Fogo Cruzado, a website documenting violence in Brazil, told CE Noticias Financieras. “He loves doing journalism that changes something that exposes abuses, that helps protect those who need protection.”
Terrence McCoy of Brazil contributed to this report.