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Brazil: Denial of justice for Rio disappearances shows justice system ‘unfit for purpose’

    July 24, 2015

    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.

    Despite strong evidence that members of Rio de Janeiro’s military police were involved in the crime, the initial investigation was closed in 2010 after failing to produce any results.  The investigation had revealed that police had threatened the Acari youths before their enforced disappearance.

    Since the 11 went missing, their relatives have been the targets of relentless attacks and death threats. In 1993, Edméia da Silva Euzébio, the mother of one of the victims, was brutally murdered in a parking lot in Rio de Janeiro. More than two decades on, the criminal prosecution of her killing is still in the early stages, with seven police officers being questioned.

    “By failing to properly investigate and bring to justice those responsible for the enforced disappearance of the 11 young people from Acari, the authorities are cruelly prolonging their relatives’ decades-long suffering. It is high time justice in this case is done, followed by an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice system to ensure this never happens again,” said Atila Roque.

    “The unjustified and appalling slowness of the process in this case shows how selective justice can be in Brazil, where people with little money and resources rarely see those who abuse them brought to the courts.”

    “Up until now, most of the relatives of the Acari disappeared have not received a certificate of presumption of death. Without it, they are not able to receive a pension from the state. This additional injustice must be addressed immediately,” said Atila Roque.

    Full list of those forcibly disappeared in Acari and the names of their mothers, who have formed an organization to fight for justice:

    • Rosana Souza Santos, 17 – daughter of Marilene Lima e Souza;
    • Cristiane Souza Leite, 17 – daughter of Vera Lúcia Flores;
    • Luiz Henrique da Silva Euzébio, 16 – son of the late Edméia da Silva Euzébio;
    • Hudson de Oliveira Silva, 16 – son of Ana Maria da Silva;
    • Edson Souza Costa, 16 – son of Joana Euzilar dos Santos;
    • Antônio Carlos da Silva, 17 – son of Laudicena Oliveira do Nascimento;
    • Viviane Rocha da Silva, 13 – daughter of Márcia da Silva;
    • Wallace Oliveira do Nascimento, 17 – son of Maria das Graças do Nascimento;
    • Hédio Oliveira do Nascimento, 30 – son of Denise Vasconcelos;
    • Moisés Santos Cruz, 26 – son of Ednéia Santos Cruz;
    • Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos de Deus, 32 – son of Teresa Souza Costa.


    For more information, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332