Even in quarantine, Military Police in Rio de Janeiro continue to claim lives in the urban outskirts
If the illegality of the operation itself were not enough, it causes disgust that it was carried out amid the social isolation measures against the Covid-19 pandemic
Rio de Janeiro Military Police helicopter hovers over the Alemão favela complex in an
operation carried out in 2010 (Vladimir Platonov/ABr)
The murder of a 14-year-old boy, João Pedro Mattos, during a Military Police operation in Rio de Janeiro represents yet another chapter in what various social movements and organizations are calling a “racist bloodbath” caused by the security policy of Governor Wilson Witzel against the poor urban outskirts across the state. Conectas strongly condemns the action and expresses its solidarity with the family of the adolescent.
João Pedro was playing with friends and family yesterday, May 18, in his own residence in São Gonçalo, in metropolitan Rio de Janeiro, when the Military Police raided the site in search of alleged drug dealers. According to newspapers, the boy was shot in the stomach by a rifle bullet. Flown out in the police helicopter, his family spent the night trying to find information about the boy’s whereabouts, until they found his body on the morning of this Tuesday, the 19th, at the IML (Legal Medical Institute).
If the illegality of the operation itself were not enough, entering private property without a warrant, it causes disgust that it was carried out amid the social isolation measures necessary to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. It is well known that in this quarantine, when many schools are closed, more children and adolescents are at home with their families. As such, operations of this type put even more people at risk.
Unfortunately, this was not an isolated case. On May 15, another action unleashed by the Military Police against drug traffickers in the Alemão complex terrified residents, who woke up under heavy gunfire. At least 12 people were killed in the operation. There are photographic records of residents carrying bodies on the streets – scenes unimaginable in any mostly white middle-class neighborhood. Not even during this serious health and economic crisis the country is experiencing can the population from the urban outskirts have some respite.
Through its Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions, the UN has already challenged the abusive use of force against poor communities in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro, highlighting that most victims are black youth from the favelas. According to
the UN, if the allegations are confirmed, the Rio de Janeiro state government could be in violation of articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
the American Convention on Human Rights.
The brutal and incomprehensible death of João Pedro can be added to a list of at least nine other children and adolescents who have fallen victim to the public security policy of Governor Witzel since he took office in 2019. Among them, we remember the names of Agatha Félix, Jenifer Gomes, Kauã Rozário, Letícia Ferreira and Lauane Batista. In common, they were all black and residents of Rio de Janeiro’s urban outskirts.
In view of these new cases, it is urgent for the Supreme Court to reschedule ADPF No. 635 (Allegation of Violation of a Fundamental Precept), which challenges the legality of police operations conducted in the urban outskirts of Rio de Janeiro and imposes limits on Governor Witzel’s security policy. The case was suspended on April 27 after Justice Alexandre de Moraes requested an adjournment.