Brazil: At least two civilians died after police operations in the slums of Rio
Brazil, action created 23.9.2015, petition is active
Civil and military police continue their joint operations in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. Police officers refuse to conduct proper investigations for cases in which civilians were shot dead or gravely injured. The number of deaths and injuries caused by police operations in Rio has been rising towards hundreds of thousands in recent years.
At least two children died and one woman was seriously injured as a result of the police operations in the districts of Rio de Janeiro on September 8th and 9th. Two boys aged 13 and 16 respectively were shot dead. Residents report that police operations are still ongoing.
On the morning of September 8th, Cristian Soares was playing football when a joint police and military force entered the slum, Manguinhos favela, in Rio de Janeiro. Soares, residents of the district, and other children began to flee to safety when a bullet fired by one of the policemen hit the boy. Witnesses claimed that police then tried to remove his body and alter the crime scene. Residents tried to prevent them from doing so but were intimidated by the police officers. Records showed that the police were not wearing any identification during the operation. After the boy's death, residents in Manguinhos protested and closed the streets.
On the same day, the military police carried out another operation in the Maré favela in the same city. Residents of the district could not leave their homes, some houses lost electricity, and schools had to cancel classes. During the shootings, a 33-year-old woman was shot in the face and is in critical condition in the hospital. On September 9th, the military police returned to the favela. Consequently, a 16-year-old boy was killed and other residents were injured in the shooting. Considering the rather complicated situation, it is difficult to confirm the exact number of civilian casualties. Following the shooting, residents once again are unable leave their homes, and all school activities and classes have been suspended.
Police operations in the slums of Rio de Janeiro have been taking place for several years. Amnesty International has long documented the shocking "shoot first, ask questions later" tactics used by the police in Rio. Between 2005 and 2014, 8466 police killings were documented in the state of Rio de Janeiro, of which 5,132 took place in the city. Since 2013, the number of deaths has increased by 40%. The number of on-duty police killings comprises a significant percentage of the overall amount of homicides: 15.6% in 2014 in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Police killing cases are rarely investigated. Of the 220 cases investigated in 2011, Amnesty discovered that only one police force member was brought to charge. As of April 2015, 183 cases are still open.
Amnesty International has been working with local organizations Network for Development of Maré and Favela Watch since November 2012 on campaigns against human rights violations in police operations in favelas. The Maré complex is now home to 132,000 people and is located near the airport. Its residents share the space with organized criminal groups and militias. The relationship between the police and Maré residents has been marked by violence and abuse, and civilians often face pressure from both parties.