Brazilian authorities must exercise restraint in dealing with spreading social protests in the country, the United Nations human rights office said today in the wake of reported clashes between demonstrators and police in Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte.
“We call on the Government of Brazil to take all necessary measures to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and to prevent the disproportionate use of force during protests,” the spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Colville, told reporters in Geneva.
“We further call on authorities to conduct prompt, thorough, independent and impartial investigations into reported excessive force.
Protests began on 10 June, mainly over the rising cost of public transport and the expense of staging the 2014 World Cup and the Rio Olympics in 2016. The demonstrations are said to be biggest seen in Brazil in over 20 years, and while most have been peaceful, there have been reports of injuries, arrests and detentions of protesters, as well as journalists covering the events. Civil society organizations have also denounced the arbitrary nature of some of these detentions.
OHCHR welcomed a statement by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff saying that peaceful demonstrations are legitimate, and also the agreement on Monday that Sao Paulo police would not use rubber bullets.
However, with further protests planned, the agency said it was concerned that excessive use of police force would be repeated. It also called on demonstrators not to resort to acts of violence in pursuit of their demands.
“We urge all parties involved to engage in an open dialogue to find solutions to the conflict and alternatives to address legitimate social demands, as well as to prevent further violence,” Mr. Colville added.