A father's nightmare

Two sons murdered. A third son shot. No one brought to justice. A family torn apart by Brazil’s culture of violence.

It’s hard to imagine a more heartbreaking story than that of Jorge Lazaro Samba Nunes dos Santos. His family has been devastated by what some commentators refer to as an 'extermination' of black youth in Brazil.

In 2008, Jorge's eldest son, Ricardo Mattos, was shot dead by military police in Salvador while playing football with his friends.

In 2013, Enio, Jorge's younger son, was abducted from his home and killed.

And one month ago today, on 10 July, a third of Jorge’s sons, 18-year-old Denilson, was shot whilst walking home.

Luckily Denilson survived and is now recovering. Sadly, violent acts targeting young men in the Olympic host country are all-too common.

Despite Jorge’s continual quest for justice since the death of his first two sons, no one has been brought to trial for either of their deaths. Where police officers are involved, witnesses are afraid to give testimony. Add to that institutional racism... When a young black man is killed, it is hard to find answers in Brazil.

State support broken

Rather than being supported, the family have been persecuted further in the aftermath of the two boys' deaths. The Brazilian authorities gave them accommodation to protect them in the aftermath, yet they forced the family to separate - Jorge and Denilson were sent to a shelter for homeless people, and his wife and two daughters in a shelter for women who had suffered sexual and domestic violence. The surviving children have been out of school for over five years now.

The 'extermination' of young black men

Sadly, Jorge’s story is not unique. Every year, thousands of young black men are murdered throughout Brazil, and hundreds are killed by military police or by death squads and militias with links to the police, like Ricardo. 

At the end of 2015, a colleague of mine met Jorge. He described him as a man broken by insecurity, fear and anger, but with a firm urge for justice. In light of the recent shooting of Denilson, I’m sure this urge has only been strengthened.

While the fantastic spectacle of the Olympic Games plays out on screens around the world, it mustn't distract from the violence and injustice experienced by the dos Santos family - and so many others, mourning the lost sons, brothers, friends and partners.

Thank you to everyone who sent a message of support to the dos Santos family - we have passed them on to Jorges and his family.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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