Inter-American Court condemns Brazil for favela killings case
The ruling determines the implementation of measures for the effectiveness of the external control of the police

Rio de Janeiro, May 15th  2017. – The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued a ruling last Friday declaring Brazil international responsible for having failed to guarantee full access to justice for the victims in Cosme Rosa Genoveva et al. Brazil (known as the case of the killings, or 'chacinas', of "Favela Nova Brasília").

The killings occurred between October 1994 and May 1995, during a series of police raids on the Complexo do Alemão, which resultedin the deaths of 26 youths and the torture and sexual assault of three girls - two of them minors at the time. All these human rights violations were perpetrated by police agents of the state of Rio de Janeiro.

In its judgment, the Court determined that the investigations into the 1994 massacre must be carried out effectively and that, in the case of the 1995 murders, the investigation should be initiated or reactivated, guaranteeing full access to the relatives to all stages of the investigation process.

In addition, the Inter-American Court's ruling recognized that the facts of the case are part of an overall context of structural violence, noting that "in Brazil, police violence represents a human rights challenge, especially in Rio de Janeiro" where " the  victims of police violenceare predominantly young, poor and unarmed people of African descent."

The Court also notes that "women who live in communities where there are 'clashes' generally face particular types of  violence, and are threatened, attacked, injured, insulted and even subjected to sexual violence by the police."

Furthermore, the homicides in the two killings possesed the characteristics of extrajudicial executions, and were registered as "autos da resistencia". This led to a lack of investigation into the murders due to the presumption that the deaths occurred as a result of clashes between the police and members of the community. The absence of appropriate and impartial procedures resulted in a lack of clarification of the facts, and as a consequence,the victims  held accountable for their own deaths.

In this regard, the Court also acknowledged that "before investigating and corroborating police conduct, in many investigations an investigation is carried out into the profile of the deceased victim and the investigation is closed on the grounds that [he] was a possible criminal."

In order to ensure justice for victims and their family members, the Inter-American Court ordered Brazil to carry out several reparation measures, including an adequate investigation of both chacinas as well as the development and implementation of public policies to guarantee the principle of non-repetition.

The Inter-American Court's judgement is emblematic because it recognizes the structural nature of police violence present in Brazil, one that is fostered by a judicial system that does not investigate and punish criminal actions carried out public security agents against specific and vulnerable groups.

For Beatriz Affonso, Director of CEJIL's Brazil program stated that "the ruling recognizes that the violence perpetrated by the public security agents of the state of Rio de Janeiro occurs systematically, and is frequently aided by omissions made by justice administrators.  This results in a lack of investigations and rarely is anyone punished for their crimes. As a cause and consequence, this fosters a dynamic of impunity for state-sanctioned violence. "

"This decision is very relevant because it is the first decision made by the Inter-American Court in a Brazilian case that addresses the impunity that surronds the  extrajudicial executions carried out by members of the Military and Civil Police against Afro-descendant youths from empovrished communities ." The researcher of the ISER, Pedro Strozenberg.

For more information, click here (spanish or  here (portuguese)

To read the court's ruling, click here.

Solicitud de entrevistas:

CEJIL Brasil
Luciana Bento (asesora de prensa – CEJIL)
(21) 98103.7215

Luíza Boechat (Comunicación – ISER)