Brazil is on a fast-track course to repeat the deadly mistakes it has been making around policing for decades, made even more evident during the 2014 World Cup, which left a long trail of suffering, Amnesty International said today in a briefing two months ahead of the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony.
Violence has no place in these games! Risk of human rights violations at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games reveals how Brazilian authorities and sports governing bodies in Rio de Janeiro have put in place the same ill-conceived security policies which led to a sharp increase in homicides and human rights violations by security forces since the 2014 World Cup. This jeopardizes the promised Olympic legacy of a safe city for all.
“When Rio was awarded the 2016 Olympic Games in 2009, authorities promised to improve security for all. Instead, we have seen 2,500 people killed by police since then in the city and very little justice,” said Atila Roque, Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
Released 27 April 2016 at 00:01 Brazil time (03:01 GMT)
Residents in many of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas are living in terror after at least 11 people have been killed in police shootings since the beginning of the month, Amnesty International warned ahead of the 100-day countdown to the Olympic Games.
In the city of Rio alone, at least 307 people were killed by the police last year, accounting for one in every five homicides in the city. Meanwhile the authorities have failed to hold those responsible to account and have increasingly taken a hard-line approach against mainly peaceful street protests.
“Despite the promised legacy of a safe city for hosting the Olympic Games, killings by the police have been steadily increasing over the past few years in Rio. Many have been severely injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and even firearms used by police forces during protests,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil.
The decision by Rio de Janeiro State Public Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute the killing of a 10-year-old boy in a favela earlier this year is a positive sign towards ensuring the external oversight of police actions, Amnesty International said today.
Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, who was black, was shot in the head during a police operation in Alemão complex, one of the city’s largest favelas, on 2 April this year.
“The circumstances surrounding young Eduardo’s death could become a watershed moment in the fight against impunity and this is an important step by the Public Prosecutor to ensure external oversight over police actions,” said Átila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil.
“This is crucial when we are talking about a police force that has killed more than 1,000 people between 2014 and 2015 in alleged confrontations. Transparency in this investigation will be a way to protect everyone.”
The death of a teenage boy who was caught up in a shootout between police and suspected members of a criminal gang in a favela in Rio de Janeiro today tragically illustrates the urgent need for Brazil to drastically reform its approach to policing, said Amnesty International.
“We have long documented the shocking ‘shoot first, ask questions later’ tactic used by police in Rio de Janeiro during their security operations in favelas. This ‘Wild West’ approach to policing is leaving a tragic trail of blood and suffering,” said Atila Roque, Executive director at Amnesty International Brazil.
Thirteen-year-old Cristian was playing football in the favela of Manguinhos, in Rio de Janeiro, when military and civil police officers entered the community and engaged in a gun battle with a group of men. One of the bullets hit Cristian, who died immediately. Eyewitnesses said police officers tried to clean the crime scene after the incident.
Military police in Rio de Janeiro who seem to follow a “shoot first, ask questions later” strategy are contributing to a soaring homicide rate but are rarely investigated and brought to justice, Amnesty International said as it published exclusive statistics and analysis ahead of the one-year countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
The report “You killed my son" : Killings by military police in Rio de Janeiro reveals that at least 16% of the total homicides registered in the city in the last five years took place at the hands of on-duty police officers – 1,519 in total. Only in the favela of Acari, in the north of the city, Amnesty International found evidence that strongly suggests the occurrence of extrajudicial executions in at least 9 out of 10 killings committed by the military police in 2014.
The continuing failure to undertake effective investigations into the enforced disappearances of 11 young people in a favela in Rio de Janeiro 25 years ago and the brutal murder of one of the mothers seeking justice clearly shows the shocking state of Brazil’s criminal justice system, said Amnesty International today.
On 26 July 1990, eight children and three young people from the favela of Acari in Rio de Janeiro were abducted by a group of men who identified themselves as police officers. The 11 were never seen again.
“The tragedy of Acari is the result of deep rooted problems within the Brazil police force and a criminal justice system that is unfit for purpose. The fact that a quarter of a decade after 11 people were forcibly disappeared and still no one knows what happened speaks volumes about the state of human rights in Brazil,” said Atila Roque, Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
A shocking U-turn on a Brazilian Parliamentary decision that rejected lowering the age at which young people can be tried as adults and sent to appalling conditions in adult prisons risks endangering the safety and lives of millions of young people across the country, said Amnesty International.
Last night, the President of the Brazilian House of Representatives, Eduardo Cunha, called for a new vote on a proposal to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years old. The proposal had already been rejected by the lower chamber of Parliament earlier in the day.
"The Brazilian Parliament is treading on dangerous ground. Eduardo Cunha threw parliamentary procedures on their head by reintroducing nearly the same proposal less than 24 hours after it was voted down. This sets a very dangerous precedent,” said Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
Released 00:01 GMT 18 May 2015
Plans to lower the age at which children can be prosecuted as adults in Brazil will dramatically undermine children’s rights and could result in teenagers being sent to notoriously dangerous adult prisons where they could face horrendous violence, abuse and grooming, said Amnesty International today.
Brazil’s congress is currently considering reducing the age a person could be prosecuted as an adult from 18 to 16 years old. If passed, the legislation would mean some children would be tried as adults, face the same criminal penalties and could be sent to adult prison.
Today’s presentation of the final report of Brazil’s National Truth Commission (Comissão Nacional da Verdade, CNV) marks an historic step in the country’s efforts to obtain justice for crimes against humanity and other violations during the military dictatorship that took power five decades ago, Amnesty International said.
The commission spent two years investigating the thousands of cases of torture, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and other violations dating back to the period of military rule in Brazil from 1964-1985.
Since 1979 an Amnesty Law covering political crimes has been used as a means of protecting members of the former military government from being put on trial for serious human rights violations.
“By showing the widespread nature of human rights violations committed by state agents during the military dictatorship and recognizing them as crimes against humanity, the National Truth Commission’s final report paves the way to ensure the Amnesty Law will not be an obstacle to investigating these crimes,” said Atila Roque, Director of Amnesty International Brazil.
By Atila Roque, Executive Director of Amnesty International Brazil
Earlier this week, many people around the world waited with bated breath for a grand jury’s decision in a case where a police officer shot dead an unarmed young black man on the street. While the 9 August shooting of Michael Brown took place in the US suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, the case has a deep resonance here in Brazil. The tragic course of events leading up to the teenager’s death could just as easily have played out on the streets of our cities or favelas.
Of the 56,000 homicides in Brazil every year, 30,000 are young people aged 15 to 29. That means that, at this very moment, a young person is most likely being killed in Brazil. By the time you go to bed, 82 will have died today. It’s like a small airplane full of young people crashing every two days, with no survivors. This would be shocking enough by itself, but it’s even more scandalous that 77 per cent of these young people are black.
Embargoed until 30 October 2014 00:01 GMT
The fourth anniversary of the killing of an outspoken community leader in Maranhão state must be a wake-up call to the Brazilian government to urgently address increasing violence in the region, said Amnesty International today.
Flaviano Pinto Neto, leader of the Charco community in north-east Brazil, was shot dead on 30 October 2010. In April 2011, four people were charged with the killing but have not yet been brought to trial.
“This shocking case is emblematic of the serious injustices that befall human rights defenders in Brazil. By failing to investigate the death of Flaviano Pinto promptly, thoroughly and impartially, the Brazilian government is denying justice to his family and effectively giving the green-light for the murder of other activists,” said Renata Neder, Human Rights Advisor at Amnesty International Brazil.
The state of Maranhão is plagued with land conflicts and violence against rural workers. This year alone, five community leaders have been killed in struggles over land.
The Brazilian authorities’ promises that the opening of the World Cup would be a global celebration ring hollow as police brutally repressed peaceful protesters in Sao Paulo, injuring at least two journalists, Amnesty International said.
“We are issuing military police in Sao Paulo with a yellow card for attacking peaceful protesters instead of guaranteeing the right to protest and the safety of the participants,” said Atila Roque, Director of Amnesty International Brazil.
Brazil is about to host the biggest football frenzy on the planet, where teams from around the world fight for the Cup every fan wants to hold.
But as Messi, Neymar and Rooney come face to face, outside Brazil’s shiny new stadiums another more serious standoff is taking place – one in which the ‘rules’ are being openly flouted.
Since June 2013, hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers of cities and towns across Brazil demanding better public services, including transport, among other rights. Many of them complain that authorities are paying too much attention to FIFA’s demands and too little to the needs of their own people.
The response of the authorities has been nothing short of disgraceful.
Military police units sent to keep the protests “under control” have not hesitated for a second before shooting tear gas at peaceful protesters – in one case even inside a hospital. They have fired rubber bullets and beat men and women with batons despite them posing no threat.
Posted at 0001hrs (Rio de Janeiro) 5 June 2014
Protesters taking to the streets across Brazil during the upcoming World Cup risk facing indiscriminate police and military violence as the country steps up efforts to control demonstrations, Amnesty International said a week before the start of the tournament.
“Brazil’s deficient policing record, reliance on the military to police demonstrations, lack of training and an atmosphere of impunity creates a dangerous cocktail in which the only losers are peaceful protesters,” said Atila Roque, Director at Amnesty International Brazil.
“The 2014 World Cup will be a crucial test for authorities in Brazil. They must use this opportunity to step up their game and ensure the security forces policing demonstrations during the tournament refrain from committing any more human rights violations,” said Atila Roque.
Amnesty International’s report ‘They use a strategy of fear’: Protecting the right to protest in Brazil analyses the catalogue of abuses committed by the security forces in the past year.