Sao Paulo/Geneva – Conectas Human Rights, Pastoral Carcerária, Instituto Terra, Trabalho e Cidadania (ITTC) and Instituto Práxis de Direitos Humanos sent today (24/01) an ‘Urgent Appeal’ to the United Nations Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Health, Adequate Housing , Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in Geneva, Switzerland. The document addresses the abuses and omissions perpetrated by public authorities during the police operation, which started on January 3rd, 2012, in a neighborhood known as ‘Cracolândia’ (Crackland), in Sao Paulo/Brazil.
Among the main issues, there are reports of excessive and disproportional use of force by the Military Police of São Paulo (Polícia Militar) and the Metropolitan Civil Guard (Guarda Civil Metropolitana), in addition to inhumane treatment and lack of health assistance. The information presented in the appeal was gathered from police reports filed by victims of police violence, official document from the Public Attorney’s Office (Ministério Público do Estado de São Paulo), and from visits in loco carried out by the four undersigned NGOs.
"There is no reason for state officials to act outside the law. To expose what we saw and heard to the UN, and not to remain silent, is one way to hold Brazilian public officials accountable before the international community", said Marcos Fuchs, associate director of Conectas Human Rights. ”We request the UN to closely monitor what is happening today in Sao Paulo and especially to investigate police abuses and omissions in the health and housing areas", added Paulo Malvezzi Filho, from the Praxis Institute of Human Rights.
After receiving the Urgent Appeal, the UN Rapporteurs will request explanations to the Brazilian authorities through the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Since the document mentions the responsibilities of authorities at São Paulo state and municipal levels, both must also answer to the UN inquiries. The result may be published by the Special Rapporteurs and submitted to the Human Rights Council, the highest human rights body of the United Nations.