Human Lives Human Rights: The Brazilian authorities need to put an immediate end to the deadly police operations that have resulted in the deaths of 45 individuals in the recent days in the states of Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo.
These extremely deadly operations serve as additional proof of the Brazilian government’s ongoing failure to stop unlawful killings and other severe human rights violations that occur within the police force. The governors and police chiefs of the country must reform their security policies to ensure that the use of force aligns with the protection of human rights, beginning with the right to life, safety from harm, and personal security.
Between July 28th and August 1st, police operations conducted in the cities of Salvador, Itatim, and Camaçari in the state of Bahia resulted in the deaths of 19 individuals. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, a police operation carried out on August 2nd led to the deaths of 10 people and left four others injured in the neighborhood of Vila Cruzeiro. This neighborhood was previously associated with one of the deadliest operations in the state, which resulted in the deaths of 25 people in May 2022.
These highly lethal operations serve as further evidence of the Brazilian government’s systemic failure to address the issue of unlawful killings and other serious human rights violations.
According to official reports, a Military Police operation called “Operation Escudo” was initiated in the Baixada Santista region of São Paulo state on July 28th in response to the death of soldier Patrick Bastos Reis the day before. As of the morning of August 4th, this operation has resulted in the arrest of 181 individuals. Additionally, the São Paulo Police Ombudsman is currently investigating the deaths of at least 19 people, which are allegedly linked to the same police operation.
The residents of the Baixada Santista have been reporting incidents of torture, threats, intimidation, break-ins, assaults, executions, and other forms of abuse. The announcement that Operation Shield will be extended for another 30 days raises concerns about the possibility of more deaths and an escalation of abuses.
In light of these abuses, it is crucial to remember the events known as the May 2006 Crimes in São Paulo and the Baixada Santista. During a two-week period, 564 individuals were killed in a retaliatory operation following the deaths of police officers. Even after 17 years, the families of the victims have not yet been granted the right to truth, justice, and reparations.
The repeated occurrence of these extremely deadly operations highlights the absence of external oversight over police actions in the country. State prosecutors’ offices, entrusted with the constitutional responsibility of exercising this oversight, must take immediate action to ensure that thorough, efficient, and unbiased investigations are conducted into these killings. It is crucial to identify all individuals involved and hold them accountable, including those in positions of authority, in order to ensure proper accountability.
In addition to preventing further abuses, it is crucial for the authorities to take immediate and decisive actions to put an end to these violations. This includes providing comprehensive and effective reparations to the victims, their families, and the affected communities.
It is also important to remember the tragic events known as the May 2006 Crimes in São Paulo and the Baixada Santista. During a two-week period, 564 individuals were killed in a retaliatory operation following the deaths of police officers. These incidents serve as a stark reminder of the need for justice and accountability in addressing such acts of violence.
Based on information gathered by the Brazilian Forum for Public Security, the number of deaths in police operations in Brazil during 2022 averaged at 17 individuals per day, resulting in a total of 6,429 deaths. Among the states with the highest number of killings in the country, Bahia and Rio de Janeiro rank second and third, respectively. In the state of São Paulo, although there has been a decline in deaths in recent years, including the implementation of body cameras on military police officers, there has been a recent increase in violence in the past few months.
According to information released by the state’s Secretariat of Public Security, there has been a significant increase in the number of deaths resulting from police operations in the state between January and June 2023. A total of 171 individuals lost their lives during this period, marking a 26% rise compared to the same timeframe last year.