Racism and discrimination against blacks, indigenous people, women, peasants, homeless people and slum dwellers. Work analogous to slavery and human trafficking. Prisoners, migrants and LGBTs at risk. Insecurity, organized crime, militias, factions and a recurring violent response the State. Impunity and attacks on freedom of expression and the press.
These and other issues are explored in more than 200 pages of a hard report recently sent to the Brazilian government by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the OAS (Organization of American States), the main multilateral body dedicated to the issue across the continent.
Made with “the objective of assessing the main human rights challenges in the country”, the document, to which BBC News Brasil had access, records hundreds of failures by the Brazilian State, whether due to “omission, inefficiency or direct action by governments” - case, for example, of confirmed episodes of deaths and impunity linked to police violence across the country.
In 2019 alone, 6,357 people were killed by police in Brazil - the highest level since the beginning of the surveys by the Brazilian Public Security Forum in 2013. By way of comparison, police lethality was 5 times higher in Brazil than in the USA in same year.
In one of the most vehement moments of the text, the Commission indicates the existence of a “structured system of violence and execution of 'unwanted' people in Brazilian society” through the combination of police violence and impunity, which would count on the “protection of the Justice system ”.
The report's content is especially emphatic in relation to racism, discrimination and gender-based violence in Brazil, described as drivers of a historical and perverse cycle of inequality, poverty and crimes.
The text, on the other hand, "recognizes that Brazil has a rule of law based on solid democratic institutions".
“However,” the text continues, “it warns that, recently, this system has been facing challenges and setbacks”.
Sought by BBC News Brasil, the Brazilian government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, informed that it should send comments after the publication of the report. Answers will be included in this text.
The OAS arm responsible for overseeing the guarantee of human rights across the continent, the Commission was created in 1959 and is headquartered in Washington, USA. Among different attributions, she presents cases of violations to the OAS Inter-American Court of Human Rights and acts before the court in cases involving crimes committed by states.
Without naming President Jair Bolsonaro (without a party) by name, the text stresses that the facilitation promoted by the current government in access to firearms will be unable to contain or reduce violence.
On the contrary, according to the agency, the arms policy should increase crime, in addition to "undermining citizens' confidence in the State and deepening historical fissures in the social fabric".
"The Commission sees with extreme concern the State's attempts to expand, through the use of presidential decrees, the access of Brazilians to firearms, which could, moreover, exponentially increase the violence perpetrated against women", emphasizes the entity.
Wanted, the Planalto Palace did not respond to the request for comment sent by the report.
In the report, the entity also shows “concern” in relation to the Bolsonarist approach to the military dictatorship and torture, condemning the “denial of this historical past by the Brazilian State” and the impunity of the “most crimes” committed in the period.
The agency also criticizes measures taken by the Bolsonaro government, such as the extinction of the Ministry of Labor ("which could weaken efforts to eradicate work in conditions similar to slavery and child labor") and the end of policies related to housing, participation of society in public policies, land reform, among others.
Public data the commission show that, since Bolsonaro's inauguration until the end of last year, Brazil had been the target of more than 45 public criticisms, petitions and recommendations, in addition to the special report being finalized.
Despite hard struggles with previous administrations (Dilma Rousseff even announced the departure of the commission after criticizing the Belo Monte plant), Brazil has never been the subject of so many calls in the history of the IACHR.
The analysis available in the report, however, goes far beyond the current government and offers an X-ray of Brazil that has not been seen since 1995, the date of the first official visit by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to the country to prepare a similar report. .
Published this Friday (05-03) by the OAS body, the text is the result of more than two years of work that officially began in November 2018, on an official visit by author and members of the Commission to eight Brazilian states, in addition to the Federal District.
On the official trip, the Inter-American Commission met with ministers, judges of the Supreme Federal Court, members of the Attorney General's Office, Public Prosecutors and Defenders, in addition to ordinary citizens, civil society organizations and social movements.
"The Commission also collected hundreds of statements victims of human rights violations and their families, and analyzed thousands of documents, laws, bills and other information," according to official records.
Activities included visits to federal prisons, to the region known as “cracolândia”, in São Paulo, to indigenous and quilombola communities and neighborhoods on the outskirts of Bahia, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo , Roraima and Brasília.
Also gathering a series of references to episodes and documents after the visit, the special work of the Inter-American Commission on Brazil ended in December 2020, after receiving comments and final information the Brazilian government.
Both the visit and the report were prepared at the invitation of the Brazilian government itself, in November 2017, at the time headed by Michel Temer.
Discrimination in police and courts
The report criticizes police actions in operations involving blacks, women and minorities by citing disproportionate levels of violence against these groups.
"The IACHR observes that the country has had great difficulty in ensuring the right to citizen security for a large contingent of its population," says the text.
“People of African descent, especially young males and of poor family background, appear as preponderant victims of acts of intentional lethal violence, most of which are committed in the context of police action.”
In the Commission's opinion, “there is a high level of impunity for these crimes, which, in intersection with structural discrimination, consolidate a diagnosis of institutional racism” in the country.
The text points out that the “Brazilian police is one of the most lethal in the world, as well as the one with the most murdered professionals”, and points out a harmful process “of militarization of public security, which, in turn, ends up consolidating a logic of war in urban and rural centers ”.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights goes further and highlights the role of Justice in this process.
“Such inequality is reproduced or even amplified by the performance of the criminal justice system: on the one hand, impunity for crimes committed against these most vulnerable populations is chronic; and, on the other hand, the impact of the State's repressive apparatus against these same populations is disproportionate. ”
Also according to the agency, "remaining unpunished, such violations committed by public security agents reach a structural, systematic and widespread character across the country."
The IACHR further notes that not only cases of massacres involving security agents, but also cases of people involved in the enticement and use of slave labor in Brazil end with impunity.
"In the opinion of the Commission, such a characteristic (police violence) could indicate the existence of a structured system of violence and execution of 'unwanted' people in Brazilian society, who would have the protection of the justice system".
The text points out that this context suggests “a process of‘ social cleansing ’designed to exterminate sectors considered‘ undesirable ’,‘ marginal ’,‘ dangerous ’or‘ potentially delinquent ’, which relies on state approval”.
The Commission points out that in 2019 alone, Brazil officially registered 1,254 episodes involving conflicts over land across the country, an increase of 47% since 2010.
The agency lists episodes of violence involving gunfire and arson involving “public security forces and private security guards known as‘ jagunços ’.”
The Commission also says that “it received with concern the information that the State would be promoting the legalization of militias and, in a way, arming them in rural territories, in addition to facilitating the application of the exclusion of illegality of the military forces in the performance directed repossession. ”
The agency points out that in 2017 Brazil became “the country with the highest number of murders of defenders and defenders of the environment in the world”.
“(The Commission) reiterates its repudiation and concern about the murder with the finer execution of Councilwoman Marielle Franco, who is still under investigation at the state level today.”
In relation to the well-known urban militias involved in the murder of the councilwoman, according to the Public Ministry of Rio de Janeiro, the text cites “the State's difficulty in offering solid, systemic and sustainable responses to violence and insecurity in the last 23 years, articulating the different levels of the federation and the different police forces around measures that combine prevention and repression ”.
"(This) created a fertile environment for the emergence and expansion of criminal organizations, such as so-called militias," says the commission.
Women and LGBT
Citing a series of data on femicides, most frequently among black women, the Commission reports that it has received a series of complaints about worsening levels of violence against women.
The agency recalls that "the mere recognition of violence against women as a public problem, and not as a matter of private relations, took decades to occur in the country".
The text asks the government and the Brazilian society to fight with vigor the “culture of rape” in the country.
“The Commission reiterates its recommendations on the importance of promoting laws and public policies that seek, through human rights education, to address and eliminate structural prejudices, historical discrimination, as well as stereotypes and false concepts about women.”
Also according to the report, “the condition of gender proved to be an aggravating factor in the experiences of inequality and discrimination” in the “structural processes of human rights violations in the country”.
“Machismo and misogyny continue to relegate women to a secondary position in the economy and public affairs, with evident wage differences in the labor market and underrepresentation in parliaments and other powers, especially in top positions ”