After massacre in Salgueiro favela, Supreme Court stalls ADPF Favelas Case

The appeal scheduled for judgment in today’s session was transferred to the last item on the agenda; in practice, the vote on the case will probably be postponed

Foto: Alma Preta Foto: Alma Preta

The president of the Supreme Court, Justice Luiz Fux, changed the order of the cases to be judged on the court agenda this Thursday, November 25. As a result, ADPF Case 635, also known as the ADPF Favelas Case, has been lowered from third to seventh place on the agenda – which in practice means the judgment of the case will most likely be postponed. 

The change was made after the violent police operation that took place on Monday, November 22, in the Salgueiro favela complex, in São Gonçalo, which left at least eight people dead. The bodies of the victims were found in a mangrove swamp and removed by family members. The massacre had international repercussions and was harshly criticized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which called for an impartial and effective investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

“The massacres in Salgueiro and Jacarezinho illustrate how the Rio de Janeiro state security policy operates completely outside of the Constitution and international rules when it comes to engaging in violence against black people from the favelas,” said Djefferson Amadeus, coordinator of the IDPN (Institute for the Defense of the Black Population) and a lawyer for the MNU (Unified Black Movement). “Any delay in the judgment could result in more lives lost to a police force that is not concerned about disobeying an order from the Supreme Court suspending police operations,” said the lawyer.

In the judgment scheduled for today, the Supreme Court justices will examine an appeal filed by the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB), NGOs and social movements participating in the case referring to the precautionary measures approved by the Court in August 2020. At the time, the Court imposed some important measures, such as banning the police from firing guns from helicopters, restricting police operations around schools and hospitals, preserving crime scenes and not removing bodies from the scene for forensic purposes.

The appeal asks for clarifications on the contradictions of the ruling on the plan to reduce police lethality. At the time, the justices explained that there was no need for an urgent measure from the Supreme Court for this request because there is already a 2017 ruling from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights requiring the state of Rio de Janeiro to prepare such a plan. However, as the Rio de Janeiro state government never presented the document, the organizations argue that the Supreme Court must act to reinforce the need for the state to comply with the ruling.

Another request from the organizations refers to the use of cameras in all police vehicles and on uniforms, in addition to the creation of an Observatory formed by members of the judiciary and civil society to monitor compliance with the measures imposed on the government of Rio de Janeiro by the Supreme Court. 

Appeal urgent

More than 90 civil society organizations and social movements submitted yesterday, November 24, an urgent appeal to the UN (United Nations) and the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) condemning the massacre perpetrated by the Rio de Janeiro police in the Salgueiro favela complex.

In the document, the organizations ask that it question the Brazilian State about this episode of police violence that left at least eight people dead, that an independent, swift and impartial investigation be ensured, and that reparations be made to the families of the victims and all the people that suffered the violations.

About the ADPF Favelas Case

For the first time, NGOs and social groups and movements engaged with favelas and the mothers of victims of police operations have taken legal action against the state of Rio de Janeiro over its security policy. 

The ADPF (Allegation of Violation of a Fundamental Precept) Case No. 635, known as the “ADPF Favelas Case”, is a lawsuit proposed by the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and jointly drafted by 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 and Movimento contra a Violência and Mães de Manguinhos, which were all admitted as amicus curiae in the case.

The case calls for the gross violations caused by the public security policy of the state of Rio de Janeiro against the black and poor population of the urban outskirts and favelas to be recognized and remedied.

The judgment began in April 2020, when the rapporteur, Justice Edson Fachin, gave his vote on some of the precautionary measures that had been requested. At the end of May, after the request from the organizations for an injunction, Justice Fachin ordered the suspension of police operations in favelas during the Covid-19 epidemic, except in absolutely exceptional cases that are properly justified in writing by the competent authority and notified immediately to the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

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