‘Once again, the legacy of a major sporting event in Brazil has been tainted by police killings and abuses against peaceful protesters’ - Atila Roque
The legacy of the Rio 2016 Olympics has been one of police killings and the suppression of peaceful protest, said Amnesty International as the Games concluded over the weekend.
At least eight people were killed in police operations in Rio de Janeiro during the Games themselves ((5-21 August) and peaceful protests were heavily repressed.
In 2016 overall, police killings in Rio increased month on month as the city prepared to welcome the world to the Olympics. According to the Institute for Public Security of the State of Rio de Janeiro, police in the city killed 35 people in April, 40 in May and 49 in June - an average of more than one every single day.
Violent police operations also took place throughout the Games in several areas of Rio de Janeiro - including Acari, Cidade de Deus, Borel, Manguinhos, Alemão, Maré, Del Castilho and Cantagalo. These killed at least eight people - three at Del Castilho, four in Maré and one in Cantagalo. The death toll could rise as information on fatalities has yet to be confirmed in two other favelas: Acari and Manguinhos.
In the first week of the Games (5-12 August), 59 armed shootouts were registered in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, an average of 8.4 per day (almost double the previous week, which saw 32 shootouts - a daily average of 4.5). In the same period, at least 14 people were killed and another 32 were injured due to armed violence, according to data collected by “Cross-Fire”
, an app launched by Amnesty in July to track gun violence in the favelas.
People who live in those areas have also reported other human rights violations such as home invasions, direct threats and physical and verbal aggression by the police. Brazil’s “war on drugs” and heavily-armed approach to the security operations has also been putting police at risk. At least two police officers were killed during the first ten days of the Games.
to the Brazilian authorities calling for a halt to unlawful police killings has generated over 20,000 signatures.
Atila Roque, Executive Director at Amnesty International Brazil, said:
“Brazil has lost the most important medal at play during Rio 2016: the chance to become a champion on human rights.
“The Brazilian authorities missed a golden opportunity to follow up on their promises to implement public security policies to make Rio a safe city for all.
“The only way to undo some of many wrongs that took place during the Games is to ensure all killings and other human rights violations by the police are effectively investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.”
Repression of protests
Protesters have been harshly repressed by the police in Brazil, both inside and outside sports arenas. Peaceful public demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro on 5 and 12 August were met with police violence, including the use of tear gas and stun grenades; several people were detained. Several others were removed from competition areas for holding banners or wearing t-shirts with messages of protest, a violation of their right to freedom of expression. Meanwhile, in São Paulo, police heavily cracked down on a demonstration on 5 August, resulting in more than 100 detentions, including at least 15 children.
Atila Roque added:
“We ended the Olympic Games with even more militarised public security policies, focused on a very selective repression, excessive use of force and combat-like police operations in favelas. The outcome has been clear - a rising death toll and other human rights violations of the residents, especially young black men.
“Once again, the legacy of a major sporting event in Brazil has been tainted by police killings and abuses against peaceful protesters.
“The International Olympic Committee and other sport organising bodies must not allow these events to be held at the expense of people’s human rights.”