ADPF Favelas Case: plaintiffs ask Supreme Court to reject Rio de Janeiro’s plan to reduce police lethality

Human rights organizations filed a document on Tuesday, May 24, following the massacre caused by the police that left at least 22 people dead in Vila Cruzeiro, in the Penha favela complex

Entidades afirmam que Polícia Militar do Rio de Janeiro descumpre decisão do STF (Foto: Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil) Entidades afirmam que Polícia Militar do Rio de Janeiro descumpre decisão do STF (Foto: Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil)

Human rights organizations, favela movements and the PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday, May 24, to reject the plan by the Rio de Janeiro state government to reduce police lethality that was sent to the Court in March this year, as required by ADPF Case No. 365, better known as the ADPF Favelas Case.

The request was made to the Supreme Court on the same day that a joint operation by the Rio de Janeiro state military and civil police caused at least 22 deaths in Vila Cruzeiro, in the Penha favela complex. The operation also led to the closure of 19 schools and 2 health centers, according to information reported by the press.

“The Supreme Court needs to put a limit on police lethality now, and this should begin with the immediate rejection of the Police Lethality Reduction Plan presented by the Rio de Janeiro state government,” reads the petition. 

Non-compliance with Supreme Court ruling

In 2020, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, the organizations that participated in the case as amicus curiae requested the temporary suspension of all non-essential police operations. In a historic ruling, the rapporteur of the case, Justice Edson Fachin, accepted the request and this decision was later confirmed by the full bench of the court – the only dissenting vote was from Justice Alexandre de Moraes. The Supreme Court also banned the police from firing guns from helicopters, restricted police operations around schools and hospitals, ordered the preservation of crime scenes and forbade the removal of bodies from the scene for forensic purposes. 

“As if the clear disregard of the injunction granted by the Court was not enough, the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro also seized the opportunity to blame the Supreme Court ruling for the alleged ‘migration of criminals to the state’ in search of a ‘hideout’,” said the organizations. 

New Plan to Reduce Police Lethality 

According to the petition by the organizations, the plan to reduce police lethality should be prepared considering the following points: 

  • Promote the discussion of the proposal with civil society, involving the Public Defender’s Office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Rio de Janeiro State Bar Association; 
  • The new plan should be structured around the need to combat structural racism; 
  • Start the development of protocols for the proportional and progressive use of force and for police contacts and searches to avoid racial profiling, as well as measures to enable the temporary removal of officers from street policing activities when deaths occur;
  • The new plan should contain concrete measures, quantitative indicators, specific plans, forecasts for necessary funding and expected goals; 
  • The new plan should follow the legal and philosophical principles of ADPF Case No. 635 and not prioritize reducing the victimization of allegedly innocent people or focus on purchasing more military equipment for the police; 
  • The new plan should require the installation of GPS equipment and audio and video recording systems in all police vehicles and on the uniforms of all officers, prioritizing, to begin with, their use in the poorest communities. 

Plaintiffs in the ADPF Favelas Case

The case was submitted to the Supreme Court in November 2019 and was filed by several organizations, social movements and groups on the front line of the resistance against police lethality. It had the participation of the Public Defender’s Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro and the organizations Educafro, Justiça Global, Redes da Maré, Conectas, Movimento Negro Unificado, ISER, Iniciativa Direito à Memória e Justiça Racial, Coletivo Papo Reto, Coletivo Fala Akari, Rede de Comunidades e Movimento contra a Violência, Mães de Manguinhos, Observatório de Favelas, GENI/UFF, Maré Vive, Instituto Marielle Franco, the National Human Rights Council and CESeC. More recently, the Mothers of May Movement also joined the case as an amicus curiae.

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