By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The human rights group, Dhesca Brasil Platform, has started a four-day mission to investigate police violence in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. The research effort started today (September 9th), in Complexo do Alemão, and will continue through Tuesday, September 12th.
The international organization brings together forty civil society organizations in the areas of human, economic, social, cultural and environmental rights.
Complexo do Alemão in Rio’s Zona Norte (North Zone) encompasses fifteen favela communities with an estimated 70,000 residents. The pacification program was launched there in 2008 with the first installation of UPPs (police pacification units), and in 2010 federal armed forces came to Rio to support police in a battle for the streets, but deadly violence has remained.
Global Justice and Dhesca Platform representative, Melisandra Trentin, says she and the Rio de Janeiro mission rapporteur, Orlando Santos Junior, will meet with activists, representatives of community movements, mothers and relatives of victims of the state.
According to Trentin, today the issue addressed is the impact of violence on education. “Because police violence has an affect on education, because with the shootings the children can not go to school, not going to school means they lose their jobs and families lose the Bolsa Familia benefits.”
Santo Junior will produce a report on the Impact of Economic Policies on Human Rights in Brazil. The goal, according to Global Justice, is to “highlight the consequences of the economic austerity policies adopted by Brazil in 2014 in several areas, such as public security.”
On Monday, two meetings will be held, involving organizations and relatives of the dead from other favelas. “The territory in focus is Complexo do Alemão, but we know that this logic of police violence and militarization also happens in other favelas here in Rio de Janeiro,” explained Trentin.
Reports of excessive use of violence and police brutality in the violence-riddled favela communities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are common and have been denounced by foreign human rights organizations in the past.
However it is a deadly cycle, as Brazil also faces a high number of police deaths. A study released in 2015 indicated seven out of ten public safety professionals from across the country say they have had a colleague murdered while off-duty. The percentage of all security professionals who lost a colleague during working hours is 61.9 percent.
The Dhesca Platform carries out four other missions at the moment across Brazil on various social issues. The final report will bring recommendations to the federal government and will be used to bring the debate to national and international spaces.