Rio 2016: 'Cross-Fire', new app to document gun violence in Rio ahead of Olympics
With one month to go until the Rio Olympic Games, Amnesty International has launched a new app to document the use of firearms in the city ahead of the event.
The app, called ‘Cross-Fire’, will allow people living in Rio de Janeiro to report incidents of gun violence, which have been increasing significantly over the last few years.
Many shootings resulting in death or serious injury are carried out by the police. According to figures from Brazil’s Public Security Institute published last week, in the city of Rio alone 40 people were killed by on-duty police officers in May: an increase of 135% on the same period last year, when 17 were people killed by police. Across Rio state as a whole, police killings almost doubled, from 44 to 84.
In 2015, at least 307 people were killed by the police in Rio, accounting for one in every five homicides there.
In 2014, when Brazil hosted the World Cup, police in the state of Rio de Janeiro killed 580 people, a 40% increase on the previous year. In 2015, 645 people were killed by police in the state. The primary victims were young, black men from favelas and other poor communities.
The Rio authorities recently announced the deployment of around 65,000 police officers and 20,000 soldiers to guard the Olympic Games, in what will be the largest security operation in Brazil’s history. This will include the deployment of military personnel to direct operations in favelas, which in the past has resulted in a catalogue of human rights violations that are yet to be properly investigated.
Atila Roque, Amnesty International’s Brazil Director, said:
“Brazil has one of the highest levels of homicides in the world, with around 42,000 people killed with guns every year. Those living in the most marginalised areas of the city are disproportionally affected by this crisis.
“The app is a tool to give more visibility to the tragic reality thousands of people across Rio de Janeiro have to live with every day and is a way to urge the authorities to take some real steps to tackle this crisis.”
Information gathered through the app during its first month will be made public at a press conference in Rio on 2 August.
When Rio was awarded the Olympic Games in 2009, the city authorities promised to improve security for all. Instead, 2,500 people have been killed by police since then in the city and there has rarely been justice.
Although it is not possible to link this rise in police killings directly to the preparations for the Olympic Games, the statistics reveal a clear pattern of excessive use of force, violence and impunity that taints public security institutions in the country.