8 Dec 2009

Human Rights Watch Says Police Killings Go Unpunished in Brazil

A report released by Human Rights Watch on Tuesday raises troubling questions about the large number of police killings in Brazil, suggesting that many could be extrajudicial.

Police officers from the country’s two largest states, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, have killed more than 11,000 people since 2003 in the fight against violent crime stoked by drug-trafficking gangs. Most are reported as “resistance” killings — those that occur when police officers return fire in self defense.


But a two-year investigation by the rights group that focused on 51 such killings found evidence that police officers often took steps to cover up the nature of the deaths.

In one example cited, Rio police officers killed 19 people in the Complexo do Alemão slum in a single day in 2007, and police documents stated that at least 9 of the victims were taken to the hospital in an attempt to “rescue” them. But photographs and autopsy reports obtained by Human Rights Watch showed that the victims were already dead prior to their removal.


“Lethal Force,” the Human Rights Watch Report (pdf)