By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Prosecutors Office is asking for explanations from Rio de Janeiro state’s governor, Wilson Witzel, on declarations that snipers were already being used to shoot people considered a danger to society. In an interview on Sunday, Governor Witzel said that snipers were already being used, but their actions were being kept a secret.
“This type of action can encourage law enforcement (to act irresponsibly). In a state that the public agent confuses a hydraulic jack with a rifle, it is inadmissible to accept the action of snipers,” public defender Daniel Lozoya of the Nucleus for the Defense of Human Rights (Nudedh) was quoted as saying in O Globo.
For the daily newspaper governor Witzel confirmed the use of snipers.
“They (snipers), are already being used. The protocol is clear: if someone has a rifle, he has to be neutralized in a lethal manner,” Witzel told O Globo.
On Monday, Lozoya said that Witzel’s interview reinforces the rumors that three residents of the Manguinhos favela community were shot by snipers in January. Two of them, including a doorman at Fiocruz, one of Brazil’s most prestigious scientific research institutions, died.
One of the victims at the time had reported that the shots came from a police tower nearby.
Rio’s Legislative Assembly (Alerj) asked prosecutors to look into possible sniper action in the state.
“Anywhere in the world, snipers are only used in times of crisis when a hostage is put at risk. Indiscriminate and secret use in favelas can victimize innocents and make it impossible to collect data and even investigate crimes.” says Renata Souza, state representative and president of the Human Rights Commission at Alerj told reporters.
During his 2018 gubernatorial campaign Witzel promised to ‘take down criminals with firearms’. At the time, the now-governor said that he would create a team of snipers who you use helicopters to circle areas of Rio and kill those they saw with weapons.