Brazil: Gruesome history of police rape and killings exposed by Inter-American Court conviction

A damning ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights exposes a gruesome history of rapes and killings by police in Rio de Janeiro; particularly of young, black and poor individuals, Amnesty International said today.

The two organizations that filed the case at the court, The Center for Justice and International Law (Cejil) and The Institute for Religion Studies will hold a press conference this afternoon in the city of Rio de Janeiro (see details below).

“This judgement shines a long overdue light on the appalling human rights violations perpetrated by Rio’s police force against young, poor, black individuals who were unarmed,” says Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil.

“Crucially, it also reaffirms the responsibility of the Brazilian authorities to investigate these crimes and ensure justice for the victims – who are among the most marginalized people in the country.

“It’s been 20 years since the Nova Brasília massacres and so far no one has been held responsible for the homicides or the sexual violence perpetrated. This impunity fuels the rampant police violence that we are still witnessing on Rio’s streets today.”

On 12 May the Inter-American Court of Human Rights indicted Brazil for failing to ensure justice for victims of the “Nova Brasília” massacres more than 20 years ago.

A total of 26 people were killed and three women – two of whom were children at the time – were raped by police officers during two incidents in October 1994 and May 1995 at the Complexo do Alemão favela, in Rio de Janeiro.

The Court ruled that the investigations into both massacres should be re-opened and the victims and their families adequately compensated and protected.

Police violence continues unabated

The Inter-American Court also ruled that Brazil must publish an annual report with data on deaths resulting from police intervention across the country and establish goals and policies for reducing violence and police killings in Rio de Janeiro.

In 2015 the security forces were responsible for at least nine deaths per day, according to the Brazilian Forum of Public Security – although official, these figures are known to be underreported. In Rio de Janeiro alone, deaths from police intervention increased from 416 in 2013 to 920 in 2016. In 2017, the numbers continue to rise. Amnesty International documented a series of extrajudicial executions by the police in the city of Rio de Janeiro in the report “You killed my son”.

“While the “Nova Brasília” massacres occurred more than 20 years ago, police violence is still a reality in favelas and marginalized areas of Brazil. We hope this judgement will go some way towards stemming the horrific violence that seems to have become embedded in Brazil’s police operations” said Jurema Werneck.