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    A special police forces officer stand guard outside the Olympic Park less than two weeks before the start of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, July 24, 2016.

    Rio Lags Behind in Race for Better Human Rights as Killings by Police Soar

    © REUTERS / Pilar Olivares
    Latin America
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    When Brazil won its bid to host the summer Olympic Games, major improvements in security for the public were promised. In 2013 however, according to a report by Human Rights Watch, high homicide levels returned after several years of decline. As a result - so did the killings by police.

    For years Brazil made some progress in reducing crime, but this was mainly due to a community policing effort the country deployed in high-crime neighborhoods. However, high homicide levels became one of the main issues in the country once again. There were various factors that contributed to this, according to Maria Laura Canineu, HRW Director for Brazil.

    "You can't expect community policing to work when police are unlawfully killing members of the communities they are supposed to protect," Maria Laura Canineu, said in her report.

    The police in Rio have killed more than 8,000 people in the last decade, 645 people were killed in 2015 and 75 percent of those people were black.

    Liz Martin from Brazil Police Watch started campaigning against police violence in her country after her nephew was gunned down by the military in 2009. In anticipation of the Olympics, Martin established the campaign group hoping it would stop police brutality.

    However, the statistics showing a young black person killed every three minutes in Brazil by the police, begs the question of what more could be done. Should Brazil start to organize and establish a similar group to the Black Lives Matter movement in the US?

    "BLM has done a great job at highlighting police brutality in the US; they have highlighted the impunity after the shootings which have been appropriate, brilliant and important. In Brazil they are trying to do the same thing but the government sanctions the levels of police violence. People that are victims of violence are living in communities that are being terrorized by police," Martin told Sputnik.

    Martin revisits a situation in Brazil where she and about 20 other associates had visited the favelas and been subject to police threats. She says speaking out against it is futile.

    "I was standing there, getting organized and a police car drove by and the cop was pointing a rifle at us from his car. So every time people in Brazil protest — the risk that they take is profound and overwhelming."

    One would think that to highlight this issue would be the best way forward. However, according to Liz Martin that is not the case as the government passively or overtly sanction this issue.

    "The government of Brazil works very hard to blur the issue and identify police violence as killing criminals that is the narrative there. A ten year old child sitting on his porch or five boys sit in a car and the police shoot 111 bullets at this car. The powers can sanction this behavior as 'cleaning the streets'."

    Police officers in Brazil are rarely brought to justice over these killings, with impunity levels high the issue of killings in the wake of the Olympics and the lack of human rights leaves Brazil falling short of its target goal, Brazil's race for better rights for the ordinary people and ensuring public safety appears to be a losing one. 


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    military games, Police Abuse, sports, campaign, violence, Olympics, killings, 2016 Olympic Games, United States, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
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