• Friday, September 19, 2008

    Brazil: Dispute over homicide statistics involves Special Rapporteur’s recommendation

    In his report, the Special Rapporteur discussed the practice of recording killings by the police as “autos de resistência” (the term used in Rio de Janeiro) or as “resistência seguida de morte” (the term used in São Paulo):

    The practice of recording killings by police in this way was increasingly adopted by police during the 1990s and, although not mandated by law, is now standard practice across Brazil. The resistance classification is intended to indicate that the person was killed while committing the crime of resisting arrest or resisting other lawful orders of police. As explained to me by police and Government representatives, it is intended to indicate that police had to use necessary and proportionate lethal force in response to an attack or threat from the person killed.

    However, the classification of whether a killing is lawful or not is generally determined by the police officer who submits a form declaring the case to be one of resistance. A detective at the appropriate Civil Police station makes the first formal classification, relying primarily on the report of the involved policeman.

    He concluded that:

    This report will discuss a number of reforms that are needed to reduce the level of killing by the police. However, the starting point for serious reform must be to abolish the police practice of registering killings as “acts of resistance”. Any killing by the police should be registered in the same way as any other killing, and thoroughly investigated. The present system constitutes a carte blanche for police killings.

    The question of how to record killings by the police has again led to controversy in Rio de Janeiro following the recent release of new crime statistics:

    Translation: This Thursday, the ex-director of the Institute of Public Security (Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP)), the anthropologist Ana Paula Miranda, accused the state government of Rio de Janeiro of “fabricating” the celebrated 8.8% fall in the homicide index. Dismissed in February after publishing a record number of killings by the police, she said that “the government does not count autos de resistência in the total of intentional homicides”. Moreover, she said, “in some cases that are clearly homicides, such as when burned bodies are encountered, they are being registered as the discovery of a corpse and bones”.

    The declarations of the anthropologist were made in the presence of the current president of the ISP, the Military Police colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte, in the second Forum on Violence, Popular Participation and Human Rights, which took place in the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio. “Records of autos de resistencia, disappearances, the discovery of corpses and bones continue in an upward trend since 2000,” affirmed Ana Paula, showing data from the ISP.

    Currently a researcher at the Pereira Passos Institute, she believes that some homicides were redistributed into these categories, because the ISP has stopped going back to the internal affairs services (corregedorias) to have the detectives correct erroneously classified incidents. “After my dismissal, there was a new direction of the ISP toward breakdown,” said Ana Paula.

    According to her, some data are not disclosed, such as the bi-annual totals and the annual files on incidents involving women, the elderly, children, and adolescents. The most serious concern in her view is that the data on criminality will lose is legitimacy. “The agreements with the Municipal Health Secretariat (Secretaria Municipal de Saúde) were not renewed. Without these, it is not possible to check the veracity of incidents provided by the police stations, because there is not way to compare them with the hospital records.”

    In the debate, the current president of the ISP, colonel Mário Sérgio Duarte, denied the manipulation of data, but did not present any number to contradict his predecessor. “We have a fall in intentional homicides and in the discovery of bones indicating that a person died. A disappearance is not necessarily a death. Also, we cannot add autos de resistência to homicides, because it would be an error,” explained Duarte. He said that the autos de resistência take place “in different circumstances” from the homicides.

    Ex-commander of the Police Special Operations Battalion (Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (BOPE)), Duarte said that they did not renew the agreements “due to scheduling problems”. But the colonel’s explanations did not convince human rights activists. “In Rio as in São Paulo, autos de resistência should be counted as homicides, in line with the recommendation of the UN”, said the coordinator of the non-governmental organization Justiça Global, Sandra Carvalho.

    “In Rio, the number of persons killed by the police corresponds to 12% of intencional homicidas. The colonel lacks preparation or qualification to occupy this position and headed the BOPE which kills the most of the police in the state,” said Sandra.

    Original: A ex-diretora do Instituto de Segurança Pública (ISP), a antropóloga Ana Paula Miranda, acusou nesta quinta-feira, 18, o governo estadual do Rio de Janeiro de “fabricar” a comemorada queda de 8,8 no índice de homicídios. Exonerada em fevereiro, após divulgar número recorde de mortos pela polícia, ela afirmou que “o governo não contabiliza os autos de resistência na soma final de homicídios dolosos”. Além disso, disse, “alguns casos que são claramente homicídios, como os corpos carbonizados encontrados, estão sendo registrados como encontro de cadáveres e ossadas”.

    As declarações da antropóloga foram feitas na presença do atual presidente do ISP, o coronel da Polícia Militar (PM) Mário Sérgio Duarte, no 2.º Fórum Violência, Participação Popular e Direitos Humanos, ocorrido na Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC) do Rio. “Registros de autos de resistência, desaparecimentos, encontro de ossadas e cadáveres continuam em tendência de crescimento desde 2000?, afirmou Ana Paula, mostrando dados do ISP.

    Atualmente pesquisadora do Instituto Pereira Passos, ela acredita que alguns homicídios foram redistribuídos para estas categorias, pois o ISP deixou de recorrer às corregedorias para que os delegados refaçam as ocorrências erroneamente tipificadas. “Após a minha exoneração houve um redirecionamento do ISP para o desmonte”, disse Ana Paula.

    Segunda ela, alguns dados deixaram de ser divulgados, como os balanços semestrais e os dossiês anuais sobre as ocorrências envolvendo mulheres, idosos, crianças e adolescentes. O mais grave para a antropóloga é que os dados sobre a criminalidade devem perder a legitimidade. “Os convênios com a Secretaria Municipal de Saúde não foram renovados. Sem eles, não é possível checar a veracidade das ocorrências fornecidas pelas delegacias, pois não há como compará-las com os atendimentos nos hospitais.”

    No debate, o atual presidente do ISP, coronel Mário Sérgio Duarte, negou a manipulação de dados, mas não apresentou nenhum número para contradizer sua antecessora. “Temos quedas de homicídios dolosos e de encontro de ossadas, que indica que aquela pessoa morreu. O desaparecimento não dá a segurança sobre a morte. Também não podemos somar autos de resistência aos homicídios, pois seria um erro”, justificou Duarte. Ele disse que os autos de resistência ocorrem “em circunstâncias diferentes” aos homicídios.

    Ex-comandante do Batalhão de Operações Policiais Especiais (Bope), Duarte afirmou que não renovou os convênios “por problemas de agenda”. Porém, as explicações do coronel não convenceram aos ativistas dos direitos humanos. “Tanto no Rio como em São Paulo os autos de resistência devem ser computados como homicídios, conforme a recomendação da ONU (Organização das Nações Unidas)”, afirmou a coordenadora da organização não-governamental (ONG) Justiça Global, Sandra Carvalho.

    “No Rio, o número de pessoas mortas pela polícia corresponde a 12% dos homicídios dolosos. O coronel não tem preparo, qualificação para ocupar o cargo e esteve a frente da tropa (o Bope) que mais mata na polícia do Estado”, disse Sandra.

    See Pedro Dantas , “Rio fabricou queda de homicídios, diz ex-diretora do ISP,” O Estado de São Paulo (18/09/2008).

    The statistics released by the ISP may be found here, and a narrative summary here. These statistics include:

    * In the first half of 2008, there were 2,859 victims of intentional homicide as compared to 3,135 in the first half of 2007.
    * In the first half of 2008, there were 757 victims of “resistance killings” as compared to 694 in the first half of 2007.

  • Friday, September 19, 2008

    Brazil: Striking police cite Special Rapporteur’s report

    In the Campinas region of São Paulo state, the head of the police union cited the Special Rapporteur’s report in the context of a strike for higher pay:

    Translation: Today was another day without movement in the police stations of Campinas e Região, and the second in which the Civil Police of the state of São Paulo remained on strike. . . .

    According to [Lima de Carvalho, president of the Civil Police Union of Campinas e Região, the government is insensitive to the problem of public security. He reports that all of the police are uncompromising and united about carrying the strike to wherever is necessary to get what they are asking for. “Even the UN asks for the salaries of the police in Rio and São Paulo to be improved. This demonstrates that it really is a necessity,” he said.

    Original: Hoje foi mais um dia sem movimento nas delegacias de Campinas e região, o segundo em que a Polícia Civil do Estado de São Paulo permaneceu em greve. . . .

    Segundo Lima, o governo é insensível quanto ao problema da segurança pública. Ele relata que todos os policiais estão irredutíveis e unidos a ponto de levar a greve até onde for preciso para conseguir o que é pedido por eles. “Até mesmo a ONU (Organização das Nações Unidas) pede para que o salário das policias do Rio e de São Paulo sejam melhorados. Isso demonstra que realmente é uma necessidade”, diz.

    See “Policiais civis prosseguem com movimento grevista: Movimento foi abaixo do esperado nas delegacias de Campinas e apenas os casos mais graves foram atendidos”, Cosmo Online (17/09/2008).

    The Special Rapporteur’s report included the following recommendation:

    83. Off-duty police should under no circumstances be permitted to work for private security firms. To facilitate such changes:

    (a) Police should be paid significantly higher salaries.

    (b) The shift structure of police work should be reformed so that police cannot regularly work for large blocks of time and then receive multiple days off.

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Brazil: Response from the federal Ministry of Justice

    Brazil’s Ministry of Justice responded to the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur following a fact-finding mission to Brazil.

    As reported by Folha de São Paulo:

    Translation: The federal government cited the Pronasci (Programa Nacional de Segurança Pública com Cidadania [National Program of Public Security with Citizenship]) to argue that the 94 objectives of the program address the recommendations made by the UN.

    Also, by means of an official note, the Ministry of Justice stated that Pronasci “proposes to enhance the professionalism of public security with projects like the Training Scholarship (Bolsa Formação) (with a value of 400 reais) and the subsidized housing plan.”

    “In areas of social breakdown and where there is not a state presence, Pronasci is going to work with police, outside of the police cars and close to the community and with the establishment of social projects directed at youth,” says the note.

    One of the slogans of the minister Tarso Genro (Justice), Pronasci, according to the report of the agency, is a program where there is the “strengthening of the internal affairs services (corregedoria) and the ombudsmen (ouvidorias).”

    With respect to Rio in particular, the government says that it devotes “special attention” to that state and cites the formation of a committee to deal with public security, in which the state government also takes part.

    Original: Já o governo federal usou o Pronasci (Programa Nacional de Segurança Pública com Cidadania) para alegar que as 94 ações previstas no programa atendem às recomendações feitas pela ONU.

    Também por meio de nota oficial, o Ministério da Justiça afirmou que o Pronasci “propõe a valorização dos profissionais de segurança pública com projetos como Bolsa Formação (no valor de R$ 400) e plano habitacional com juros mais facilitados”.

    “Em territórios de descoesão social e onde não há a presença do Estado, o Pronasci vai atuar com uma polícia, fora dos carros policiais, mas próxima da comunidade e com a instituição de projetos sociais voltados a jovens”, diz a nota.

    Uma das bandeiras do ministro Tarso Genro (Justiça), o Pronasci, segundo informe do órgão, é um programa onde há o “fortalecimento das corregedorias e ouvidorias.”

    Sobre o Rio em particular, o governo diz que dedica ao Estado “atenção especial” e cita a formação de comitê para tratar de segurança pública, no qual também faz parte o governo do Estado.

    See “Rio critica “viés ideológico’; União prevê malhora”, Folha de São Paulo (16/09/2008).

  • Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Brazil: Response from Sao Paulo Secretary of Public Security

    Ronaldo Marzagão, São Paulo’s Secretary of Public Security, responded to the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur following a fact-finding mission to Brazil.

    As reported by Folha de São Paulo:

    Translation: São Paulo’s Secretary of Public Security, Ronaldo Marzagão, responded, in a note, to the criticism that there was a lack of investigation in cases homicides committed by police: “In the state [of São Paulo], for each homicide a police investigation is initiated.”

    “In the city of São Paulo, for example, of the 1,538 intentional homicides recorded in 2007, 732 were crimes in which the perpetrators were known – including those perpetrated by police. All were referred to the justice system with the identification of the perpetrator.”

    Original: O secretário da Segurança Pública de São Paulo, Ronaldo Marzagão, rebateu, em nota, às críticas à falta de investigação de casos de homicídios cometidos por policiais: “No Estado, para cada homicídio é instaurado um inquérito policial”.

    “Na cidade de São Paulo, por exemplo, dos 1.538 homicídios dolosos registrados em 2007, 732 foram crimes de autoria conhecida -inclusive os praticados por policiais. Todos foram encaminhados à Justiça com identificação do autor”.

    See “Rio critica “viés ideológico’; União prevê malhora”, Folha de São Paulo (16/09/2008).

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Brazil: Response of Sérgio Cabral, Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Brazil: Response from Marcelo Freixo, Rio de Janeiro State Assemblyman

    Marcelo Freixo, a member of the Legislative Assembly of the state of Rio de Janeiro responded to the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur following a fact-finding mission to Brazil:

    Translation: The state assemblyman Marcelo Freixo (PSOL), president of the parliamentary commission of inquiry on militias in the Legislative Assembly, recalls that during Alston’s visit, in 2007, the investigations of militia involvement, including that of politicians, still had not had results. “The actions of the government were very timid. Today, that idea of a ‘lesser evil’ has been overcome. Draco [Delegacia de Repressão ao Crime Organizado (Repression of Organized Crime Unit)] has realized this, and there is political will. There is a clear stance in relation to the militias,” Freixo said.

    In contrast to the Secretariat [of Security], Freixo, who was with Professor Alston in Rio, said that the Special Rapporteur was well-prepared and was well-informed on the local reality. The parliamentarian agreed with Professor Alston on the mega-operations. “He is not saying that crime does not need to be confronted. It is saying that to come in, killed 19 people, and leave is pointless. There were arbitrary acts in Alemão and, today, what has changed there? Absolutely nothing.”

    Original: O deputado estadual Marcelo Freixo (PSOL), presidente da CPI das Milícias da Assembléia Legislativa, lembra que na época da visita de Alston, em 2007, as investigações de milicianos, inclusive envolvendo políticos, ainda não tinham resultados. “As ações do governo na época eram muito tímidas. Hoje, aquela idéia do ‘mal menor’ foi superada. A Draco tem dado conta e há uma vontade política. Há um posicionamento claro em relação às milícias”, admitiu Freixo.

    Ao contrário da Secretaria, Freixo, que esteve com Alston no Rio, disse que o relator estava bem preparado e tinha informações de qualidade sobre a realidade local. O parlamentar concorda com Alston sobre as megaoperações. “Ele não está dizendo que o crime não tem que ser enfrentado. Está dizendo que entrar, matar 19 pessoas e sair não adianta. Houve arbitrariedades no Alemão e, hoje, o que mudou lá? Absolutamente nada.”

    See “Beltrame contesta relatório da ONU sobre polícia do Rio", Agência Estado / Globo (15/09/2008).

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Brazil: Response from Rio de Janeiro’s State Secretariat of Security

    Newspapers reported that José Mariano Beltrame, the Secretary of Rio de Janeiro’s State Secretariat of Security (Secretaria de Estado de Segurança), declined to comment on the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur following a fact-finding mission to Brazil. However, some comments were made by a spokesperson for the Secretariat.

    As reported by Globo:

    Translation: Alston’s report . . . criticized the “mega-operations” model adopted in Rio in 2007. One of the principal targets of the report was the operation in which 1,300 police entered the Complexo do Alemão (northern zone) in June 2007 and which ended with 19 deaths. It suggests switching from such operations to a permanent police presence in the favelas dominated by traffickers.

    For Alston, the mega-operations waste resources, put the population at risk, result in seizure of few weapons or drugs, and do not succeed in dismantling criminal groups. “In the view of the Secretariat, the statements in the report are subjective, unfocused on reality, and contain strong ideological biases”, said the note from the Secretariat of Security, which disputed the low seizure of arms and drugs pointed to by the Special Rapporteur. According to the Secretariat, in the last year alone the recond number of 220 rifles were seized.

    In the same period, 1,500 explosives were collected. “The statement that the actions failed to dismantle criminal organizations is also wrong. Important crimes such as car theft, the burglary of commercial establishments, and homicides have been greatly reduced during this administration,” argued the note.

    The Special Rapporteur also criticized the involvement of police in crimes and suggested the creation of specific units to investigate them. The Secretariat also responded with number, reporting that more than 350 police had been expelled in a year and a half. According to the agency, the Repression of Organized Crime Unit (Delegacia de Repressão ao Crime Organizado (Draco)) already centralizes the fight again militias, which is considered a priority.

    Original: O relatório de Alston . . . criticou o modelo de “megaoperações” adotado no Rio desde 2007. Um dos principais alvos dele foi a ação que levou 1,3 mil policiais ao Complexo do Alemão (zona norte) em junho de 2007 e terminou com 19 mortos. Ele sugere a troca das operações pela presença policial permanente nas favelas dominadas pelo tráfico.

    Para Alston, as megaoperações desperdiçam recursos, põem a população em risco, apreendem poucas armas e drogas e não conseguem desarticular grupos criminosos. “Na visão da secretaria, as afirmações do relatório são subjetivas, desfocadas da realidade e carregam forte viés ideológico”, diz a nota da Secretaria de Segurança, que contesta a baixa apreensão de armas e drogas apontada pelo relator. Segundo a secretaria, somente no ano passado foi apreendido o número recorde de 220 fuzis.

    No mesmo período, foram recolhidos 1.500 artefatos explosivos. “Equivocada também é a afirmação de que as ações falharam em desmantelar organizações criminosas. Crimes importantes como roubo e furto de veículos, roubo a estabelecimentos comerciais e homicídios tiveram expressiva redução nesta administração”, argumenta a nota.

    O relator também criticou o envolvimento de policiais em crimes e sugeriu a criação de unidades específicas para investigá-los. A Secretaria também respondeu com números, informando que mais de 350 policiais foram expulsos em um ano e meio. Segundo o órgão, a Delegacia de Repressão ao Crime Organizado (Draco) já centraliza o combate às milícias, consideradas prioridade.

    See “Beltrame contesta relatório da ONU sobre polícia do Rio“, Agência Estado / Globo (15/09/2008).

  • Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Brazil: Response from officials of the Electoral Tribunal in Rio de Janeiro

    The outgoing and incoming presidents of the Regional Electoral Tribunal in Rio de Janeiro responded to the report issued by the UN Special Rapporteur following a fact-finding mission to Brazil.

    The outgoing President, Roberto Wider, was quoted by journalists as stating that:

    Translation: It is very easy to make criticisms from afar, based on theoretical positions on how things should be. It was necessary for him to come to Rio, to understand our difficulties and, most of all, the seriousness with which we want to confront these problems. There will always be criticisms, they are always welcome, and we may find them of interest, as the case may be.

    Original: É muito fácil fazer críticas de longe, dentro de posições teóricas sobre como deveria ser. Era preciso que ele viesse ao Rio, conhecesse as nossas dificuldades e, principalmente, a seriedade com que queremos enfrentar os problemas. Críticas sempre virão, são sempre bem-vindas, e poderemos tirar algum proveito, se for o caso.

    See André Zahar, “Cabral rebate relator da ONU e diz que seria maravilhoso se bandidos entregassem armas”, Folha (16/09/2008); “Presidente do TRE rejeita relatório da ONU: ‘é fácil fazer críticas de longe’”, Globo (15/09/2008)

    The incoming president of the tribunal, Alberto Motta Moraes, was quoted as saying of the Special Rapporteur:

    Translation: He is profoundly wrong. Probably, one is dealing with an ivory tower social scientist, someone who does not understand reality.

    Original: Ele está profundamente enganado. Provavelmente, trata-se de um cientista social de gabinete, alguém que não conhecia a realidade.

    See Alessandra Duarte e Elenilce Bottari, “Wider critica relatório da ONU e diz que é fácil falar em teoria. Alston: tropas não servem para nada”, O Globo (15/09/2008).

  • Monday, September 15, 2008

    Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Brazil

    This morning, Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, released a report containing his findings and recommendations following a mission to Brazil. Both English and Portuguese versions can be found below.

    In connection with the release of this report, the Special Rapporteur issued the following press release:

    Police responsible for many of Brazil’s homicides, says UN expert

    Brazil’s police are responsible for a significant proportion of the more than 48,000 homicides that take place every year, the UN’s independent expert on unlawful killings said in a new report released today. The report finds that on-duty police routinely resort to deadly force, and that a large number of off-duty police take part in death squads and other forms of organized crime.

    “In Rio de Janeiro, the police kill three people every day,” Alston said. “They are responsible for one out of every five killings.”

    Philip Alston is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions as well as a professor at the New York University School of Law. His report is based on a fact-finding mission in Brazil during which he met with government officials — including local police commanders as well as senior ministers — many local NGOs, and more than forty witnesses to human rights abuses.

    There has been little public outcry at police violence in Brazil, in part because there is widespread skepticism that normal law enforcement measures will work against the powerful drug gangs.

    In Rio de Janeiro, in particular, the government has increasingly resorted to “mega-operations” in which hundreds of police will sweep through a gang-controlled neighborhood en masse. Based on interviews with police officers, witnesses, and victims, Alston harshly criticized this approach.

    “Local officials claim that these impressive sounding ‘mega-operations’ are protecting residents from drug gangs, but the operations have hurt ordinary people far more than they have hurt the drug gangs,” Alston said. “This is policing by public relations stunt.”

    The report focuses especially on one large-scale operation that took place in the Complexo do Alemão favela – one of the impoverished neighborhoods surrounding Rio de Janeiro city – in June 2007. That operation involved over 1,450 police, but only resulted in the capture of 2 machine guns, 6 handguns, 1 sub-machine gun, 2,000 cartridges, and 300 kilograms of drugs. During the operation, the police killed 19 people, and independent experts concluded that a number of these had most likely been summarily executed.

    Professor Alston’s report also finds that off-duty police participate in death squads, extermination groups, and the so-called “militias” that run extortion rackets in poor neighborhoods.

    “A remarkable number of police lead double lives,” Alston said. “While on duty, they fight the drug gangs, but on their days off, they work as foot soldiers of organized crime.”

    It has been estimated that nearly one in five of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas is controlled by such a “militia”. The report finds that, for residents, life under the control of a militia is often just as violent and insecure as life under the control of a drug gang.

    In the state of Pernambuco, in the country’s northeast, Alston concluded that a reliable estimate is that 70% of all homicides are committed by death squads and that many of these are made up of policemen and former policemen. The death squads are typically contracted to kill off business, political or personal rivals, and to suppress indigenous and landworker activism. Alston credited the new governor with taking steps against these death squads, but he concluded that the hundreds of people who had been arrested for involvement in death squads during his term “represent only the tip of an iceberg.”

    The report finds that multiple factors lead off-duty police to take part in organized crime. One factor is that police are poorly paid and often feel the need to develop additional sources of income. Another factor is a shift structure in which police may work for 12 to 24 hours and then take 24 hours to several days off.

    But one of the most important factors contributing to police killings may be a criminal justice system that seldom achieves convictions even in ordinary murder cases. The report found that, in São Paulo, only about 10% of homicides are tried in the courts, and only about half of these result in convictions.

    However, Professor Alston remains cautiously optimistic and praised the professionalism of the country’s public prosecution service and the innovative features of its witness protection program. “Clearly, the institutions for holding police accountable are broken, but they are not beyond repair,” he said. “My hope is that the detailed recommendations in my report will provide a starting point for undertaking the necessary reforms.”