Following the killings of at least 23 Brazilians during police raids and checks, UN-appointed independent human rights experts called on Wednesday for urgent reforms against “racialized police brutality”.
“We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the excessive and lethal use of force used by Brazilian law enforcement officials and the disproportionate impact on Brazilians of African descent,” the three experts said in a statement.
“However, the latest reports of police brutality appear to show that such human rights violations continue with impunity”.
Human rights violations continue with impunity – Independent rights experts
Disregard for life
The development follows a raid on Favela Cruzeiro in Rio de Janeiro in late May, where nearly two dozen people, including children, were killed after security forces reportedly fired indiscriminately.
Most of the victims were Afro-Brazilians, said the Human Rights Council-appointed experts, who called on the Brazilian Government to adopt “wide-ranging reforms to …de-militarize all law enforcement agencies and …address systemic racism and racial discrimination”.
In another incident, the rights experts described how three police officers reportedly used pepper spray and tear gas on a motorcycle rider of African descent, after pulling him over and putting him in the boot of their car, where he died a short time later.
“The victims of these killings deserve justice,” the experts said.
Adhere to universal standards
The experts reiterated calls to adhere to international standards governing the use of force.
“The use of potentially lethal force is an extreme measure, which may be resorted to only when strictly necessary to protect life or prevent serious injury from an imminent threat,” they stated.
They also called for comprehensive law enforcement reforms in Brazil.
“The new wave of violence is the latest manifestation of systemic and sustained deployment of excessive and lethal use of force by law enforcement officials in Brazil,” upheld the independent experts.
Moreover, they stressed the need to effectively, independently and promptly investigate the latest incidents, including adhering to the 2016 Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death, and the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions.
They called for justice for the victims and their families, and observed that the “shocking reports suggest an unconscionable disregard for human life”.
“The Brazilian Government must ensure that their deaths are effectively and independently investigated and that victims, their families and affected communities are offered appropriate redress.”
The UN experts have been in official communication with the Government to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.
More on the experts
The UN experts who signed on to this statement are E. Tendayi Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; and Catherine S. Namakula, Chair of the Working Group on People of African Descent.
Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation. The positions are honorary and the experts are not paid for their work.