Brazil: Extra-Judicial Killings and Use of Lethal Force
Please join the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at a hearing on extra-judicial killings and the use of lethal force by the police in Brazil. The hearing is open to the media and the public.
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America with a population of over 190 million. It is a strategically important country to the United States both from a regional security and economic development perspective. Brazil is the largest recipient of foreign direct investments in the region and the United States has long been the number one foreign investor in Brazil and number one export market to Brazil. However, while our bilateral relationships with Brazil are strong and continue to expand, serious human rights concerns have been raised, including the implementation of protection laws and charges of violations of those laws by Brazilian federal and local authority agents.
The State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 chapter on Brazil documents a range of serious human rights abuses, including the excessive use of lethal force by police forces in Brazil, which constitute extra-judicial killings. According to the December 2009 Human Rights Watch (HRW) Report: Lethal Force, the Rio and São Paulo police forces kill more than 1,000 people collectively every year in violent confrontations. HRW documented 51 cases in which police appeared to have executed alleged criminal suspects and then reported that the victims had died in shootouts while resisting arrest.
Tragically, U.S. citizen Joseph Martin was among those who were killed by a police officer on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. In May of 2007, Mr. Martin was shot to death outside of a bar in Rio by a police officer who later claimed self-defense, even though Mr. Martin was unarmed. In March, a Brazilian court cleared the police officer of any wrongdoing.
If you have any questions, please contact Hans Hogrefe (Rep. McGovern) or Elizabeth Hoffman (Rep. Wolf) at 202-225-3599.
James Cavallaro, Executive Director, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School
Daniel Wilkinson, Deputy Director of the Americas Division, Human Rights Watch
Elizabeth Martin, Relative of Joseph Martin
David Dixon, Brazil country specialist, Amnesty International USA