Flawed Investigations in Brazil Prompt Urgent Call to End Police Revenge Operations
November 8, 2023
Cited article by Human Rights Watch
HRRC joins Human Rights Watch in condemning the Brazilian government's inadequate and non-compliant initial investigations on excessive use of force by police, and urges the adoption of protocols to prevent "revenge operations".
Brazil has long struggled with police violence, with over 6,400 people killed by police in 2022. Revenge operations, conducted after a police officer's death, have been particularly problematic. The operation, known as Escudo ("shield"), was initiated in response to the killing of a police officer in Guarujá city and resulted in 28 deaths by September 5, making it one of the deadliest police operations in São Paulo state in three decades. However, a report from Human Rights Watch found serious deficiencies in the investigations, including a lack of proper forensic analysis, failure to conduct individual interviews with officers involved, and absence of gunshot residue tests in multiple cases.
The report also highlighted the absence of body camera footage for most of the killings. Human Rights Watch called for thorough, independent, and prompt investigations led by prosecutors. It urged authorities to adopt protocols preventing "revenge operations" and ensuring immediate support for police officers without involving them in operations following a colleague's killing.