Operation Shield: Public Defender’s Office and Conectas ask courts to require São Paulo state government to install cameras on police officers
Organizations claim that the operation has the hallmarks of “institutional revenge” and is violating human rights in vulnerable, peripheral neighborhoods populated mostly by black and poor people
Manifestação contra as mortes causadas pela Operação Escudo, na Baixada Santista. (Foto de Allison Sales / AFP)
The São Paulo Public Defender’s Office and Conectas Human Rights filed a public civil action this Tuesday, September 5, in which they ask the courts to require the São Paulo state government to install body cameras on police officers involved in so-called Operation Shield, which has been ongoing in the Baixada Santista region of the state since the end of August.
“The situation of rights violations that is described, illustrated notably by the high fatality rate of the operation in question, together with the non-use of body camera technology during the operation, constitutes a practice that cannot be tolerated in a Democratic State under the Rule of Law founded on the preservation of life and the dignity of the human person, with the intervention of the Judicial Branch strictly guaranteeing the right to life, personal integrity, personal freedom and public security of the population of São Paulo,” they wrote in the filing.
>>>Read the case filed by the Public Defender’s Office and by Conectas
The lawyer Gabriel Sampaio, director of litigation and advocacy at Conectas, recalls that the official justification for Operation Shield was a response to the death of a police officer. “Once again, the violent and lethal action was carried out in vulnerable, peripheral neighborhoods populated mostly by black and poor people in the Baixada Santos region. Reports of abuse are disregarded by the state government and the police forces, which have acted without transparency, by dismantling the program to have cameras on uniforms in order to prevent a transparent analysis and for the law to be strictly followed for each report of abuse,” he said.
Sampaio went on to say that “our legislation does not grant authorization to kill or commit abuse and this cannot be the strategy to respond to the death of a government agent. Matters of public security and accountability for the police officer’s death must strictly observe the law, prioritizing work based on intelligence, planning and respect for the lives of residents of vulnerable communities”. As such, “observance of the law and control of abuses are basic tenets of the Rule of Law, they protect the institutions and society itself”.
The total number of deaths during Operation Shield reached 27 this Monday, September 4. The organizations point out that the police raid in the Baixada Santista bears the hallmarks of “institutional revenge” following the death of the military police officer Patrick Bastos Reis in July, in the city of Guarujá, state of São Paulo.
A report released in early September by the National Human Rights Council (CNDH) notes that the operation committed at least 11 human rights violations, including executions, failure to provide assistance, home invasions, absence of cameras or identification on police uniforms and the killing of homeless people. The Council has recommended that the São Paulo government end the operation and provide clarification on the deaths that occurred within 20 days.