Killing of witnesses show death squad problem in Brazil - UN rights office

10 October 2003

The United Nations human rights office said today it had learned "with great consternation" of the shooting in Brazil of a second person who had spoken to a UN expert investigating extrajudicial killings in that country, which a spokesman said was indicative of the very problem the expert had been studying.

José Luis Díaz, spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said in Geneva today, "the Office has learned with great consternation this morning of the reported killing of a second person in Brazil who had spoken to the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings, Asma Jahangir, during her recent visit to that country."

Ms. Jahangir visited Brazil from 16 September to 8 October to check on reports of death squad murders. OHCHR officials in New York reported that on 27 September they received a report from Brazil saying that a witness who had spoken to Ms. Jahangir four days earlier had been shot by two men riding on a motorcycle. News reports today indicated a second witness had been shot in a similar fashion Thursday.

Mr. Díaz said the Thursday murder, "seemed to be, unfortunately, indicative of the situation that the Special Rapporteur had described during her mission."

"Ms. Jahangir had spoken at some length of death-squad activity," he added.


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