By Sovereign Hager
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil-Brazil’s police are being criticized for their response to a violent incident in a slum that left eight people dead. During a routine patrol in the city’s northern zone the police called in reinforcements after they came under fire.
The police response led to what is considered to be one of the worst outbreaks of violence since October, when drug traffickers shot down a police helicopter. Forty people were killed in the police response. Brazil’s bid for the 2016 Olympics was accepted just one week later.
The state governor ordered a police crackdown on gangs in the slums in mid-2007. Officers are accused of heavy handed tactics and of fueling the violence by forming off-duty vigilante squads that extort slum residents. The United Nations and human rights groups criticized Brazil’s aggressive policing.
Three people are killed in Brazil’s slums each day on average. Officials defend their methods, arguing that they are going up against heavily armed gangs with assault rifles, grenades, and even anti-aircraft weapons. Last week, police found the body of the leader of a local non-profit organization that offers young people living in the slum theater training. Fred Pinheiro’s throat was slit and he had been missing for two days.
In the past nine years, 10,216 people have been killed in police clashes in Rio. The majority took place in the city’s nine hundred and eighty slums.
For more information, please see:
AP-Shootout in Rio Slum Ahead of Carnival; 8 Dead-11 February 2010
The Washington Post-Eight Killed in Pre-Carnival Violence-11 February 2010
AFP-Eight Dead in Police Clash with Drug Gang in Rio Slang: Officials-11 February 2010