The Brazilian police’s recent deadly raid against alleged drug traffickers in Rio De Janeiro has prompted human rights concern.
Officers from Rio de Janeiro state’s civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a working-class shantytown in the city’s northern zone, on Thursday, killing 24 “criminals” from Comando Vermelho, one of Brazil’s most notorious criminal organizations. One officer was also killed in the shootout.
Police said in a statement that the operation sought to halt Comando Varmelho’s recruitment of teenagers by disrupting the group’s “warlike structure of soldiers equipped with rifles, grenades, bulletproof vests.”
Police insist that all of the 24 people it killed belonged to the criminal gang. It also denied reports that the officers killed some of the suspects execution style.
Eyewitnesses, however, did not agree.
One resident told the Associated Press that an unarmed man bleeding from a gunshot wound ran to her home and tried to hide in her daughter’s room before the police followed him in and killed him at the scene.
When members of the state legislature’s human rights committee visited the area, angry residents gathered at the scene shouting “Justice!”
“They were all traffickers or criminals who tried to take the lives of our police officers, and there was no other alternative,” said Felipe Curi, a detective in Rio’s civil police.
Police arrested six gang members in the raid, he added. The officers also seized 16 pistols, six rifles, a submachine gun, 12 grenades and a shotgun.
President Jair Bolsonaro, Carlos, who is on Rio’s City Council, sided with police and empathized with the family of the fallen officer.
The president, meanwhile, did not immediately react to the raid.
The Brazilian offices of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have urged thorough investigation into the raid.
“Even if the victims were suspected of criminal association, which has not been proven, summary executions of this kind are entirely unjustifiable,” said Jurema Werneck, Amnesty’s executive director in Brazil.