The UN human rights office is calling for an investigation into a police raid that resulted in the deaths of at least 25 people on May 6 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Police raids in Brazil usually involve officers confronting alleged drug traffickers in the city’s poorest areas. The one that happened on May 6 is being referred to as a “massacre” and one of the deadliest police shootings Rio has ever experienced.
The operation started in the early hours of Thursday when police officers on the ground and in helicopters overhead opened fire across the Jacarezinho neighbourhood – in a operation allegedly aimed at suspected drug traffickers.
In addition to the deaths, an unknown number of people, including bystanders and those inside their homes, were also wounded.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville said that the incident appeared to have been the “deadliest such operation in more than a decade” in Rio de Janeiro.
Colville said that it was “particularly disturbing” that operation took place despite a Federal Supreme Court ruling last year, which restricted police operations in Rio’s favelas during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We remind the Brazilian authorities that the use of force should be applied only when strictly necessary, and that they should always respect the principles of legality, precaution, necessity and proportionality”, he said. “Lethal force should be used as a last resort and only in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or of serious injury. [It] furthers a long-standing trend of unnecessary and disproportionate use of force by police in Brazil’s poor, marginalized and predominantly Afro-Brazilian neighbourhoods, known as favelas.”
There are also reports that after the incident, the police did not take steps to preserve evidence at the crime scene, which could hinder investigations into this lethal operation, the spokesperson said.
Colville called on the Office of the Prosecutor to conduct an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the incident in accordance with international standards, particularly in line with the Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death.
“This lays down that authorities must ensure the safety and security of witnesses and protect them from intimidation and retaliation”, he said.
The OHCHR spokesperson also urged for a broad and inclusive discussion in Brazil about the current model of policing in favelas – which are trapped in a vicious cycle of lethal violence, with a dramatically adverse impact on their already struggling and marginalized populations.
Authorities confirmed that a police operation carried out in favela do Jacarezinho, in Rio de Janeiro, resulted in 28 deaths, 27 of which were civilians and one police officer who participated in the action.
Most of people dead on #slaughterofJacarezinho were not suspected in an investigation that led to the operation. Of the 21 investigated, three were arrested and three killed. 13 of the 25 dead are unrelated to the crime that led police officers to the favela. an article of mine and Felipe Betim.
From a list of 21 investigated, three were killed and three were detained, what happened to the other 15? Who are they? EL PAÍS also questioned the Civil Police, but received no response.
The operation targeted people denounced for photos with guns on social media | Reason pointed out to the Public Prosecutor’s Office is different from the one reported by the commissioner, who described homicides, enticement of minors and kidnapping of the train.
Favela and the city together, showing that Jacarezinho is not alone in this! About a thousand people protested this Friday night in Jacarezinho against the deaths of 27 people in the community.
“We are aware of the police operation yesterday in Rio, as well as reports of extrajudicial executions by police,” State Department spokes person Raquel Krähenbühl said. “We are following this incident closely.”
“We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives, including that of officer André Leonardo de Mello Frias. We recognize that many families are suffering from the consequences,” Krähenbühl continued. “People who live in all neighborhoods in Rio deserve responsible policing and protection from criminal elements, as well as all citizens of Brazil and this hemisphere.”