Brazilian Police murder with impunity
The films ‘City of God’ and ‘Elite Squad’ were neither an exaggeration nor a romantic way to show how violence governs over Rio de Janeiro.
Amnesty International has revealed that almost 16% of all homicides in Rio de Janeiro in the last five years were carried out by agents of the Military Police of the city who were on duty. In total 1,519 deaths were attributed to men in uniform in the city that will host the Olympic Games in 2016.
According to the report titled ‘You killed my son’, the police have used force unnecessarily and excessively during security operations carried out in the favelas (slums), as in the case of Acari, north of the city, where there were extrajudicial executions in at least nine of the 10 police killings in 2014. Most of the victims between 2010 and 2013 were black young men ages 15-29 years.
The director of the organization in Brazil, Atila Roque, has criticized that the city has two very different faces.
On the one hand, it promotes the glamour sold abroad and on the other, “a city marked by repressive police interventions that are decimating a significant percentage of a generation of young men, who are mostly black and poor.”
Attila explained that the root problem is the failed strategy of the Government to combat drug trafficking and violence along with “a toxic combination of corrupt police forces, violent and lacking in resources, so poor and marginalized communities are barely visible.” To this, one needs to add “a system of criminal justice that does not impart justice or grant reparations to those who suffer human rights violations “.
Amnesty International have denounced the tactics of the police which seems to be governed by the slogan “shoot first and ask questions later.” They have warned that the officers are rarely investigated or subjected to any judicial process.
The organization has said that when someone dies as a result of police action, although the agents fill out a report and though that report is used to determine if the shooting was done in self-defense or if it is necessary to open an investigation, many of the cases are classified as “acts of resistance” , which protects authors and exempt them from appearing in court.
Of the 220 open investigations of police killings in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro only one case was filed against a police officer. In April 2015, 183 were still open.
Amnesty International also revealed that often the scene of police crime is cleaned up by police who remove the bodies and plant evidence to clear themselves from any potential wrongdoing.
One case is that of Eduardo de Jesus, a 10 year old boy who died while sitting in the door of his house.
His mother told AI that the officers dismantled the scene almost immediately, tried to take the body although members of the favela stopped them and tried to put a gun beside the body to incriminate the child.
Since then, the family has received threats and has been forced to move for fear of reprisals. At present, authorities are investigating the incident.
Attila regretted the erroneous “strategy of fear” of the security forces to combat crime.
“These problems can only be solved with a concerted strategy to reduce homicides and ensure that all human rights violations are fully investigated and that those responsible face justice,” he concluded.
Brazil has one of the highest homicide figures in the world. In 2012 alone, there were 56,000 murders, more than half of the victims were between 15 and 29 years, and 77 percent were black. Of the 8,741 homicides committed between 2005 and 2014 by police in the state of Rio de Janeiro, 5,132 took place in the capital.