Deep concern following killing of human rights defender in Brazil

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Association for the Prevention of Torture strongly condemns the killing of human rights defender and city Councillor of Rio de Janeiro, Marielle Franco, and of her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes. Extending our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and friends, we call on the authorities to undertake all necessary measures to promptly and thoroughly investigate their deaths.

In this time of mourning, we would also like to extend our sincere condolences to the human rights defenders and communities of Rio who are suffering the tragic loss of an ally and fierce advocate. Born and raised in one of Rio’s most violent favelas, Ms. Franco fought racism and represented hope for the most unprivileged in the city. A major voice against police abuse and institutional violence, she supported families of victims of State violence and advocated for their rights.

Just a few weeks before the killing, she had been appointed Rapporteur of a monitoring committee established to oversee the development of the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro. In February 2018, President Michel Temer signed a decree putting the military in charge of Rio de Janeiro’s security and police force.

“The killings of Ms Franco and Mr Gomes must receive the full attention of the authorities, who must undertake all necessary measures to carry out a prompt, thorough, effective, and independent investigation to clarify the facts surrounding the killings, identify the perpetrators, and hold them accountable for their acts,” said Audrey Olivier Mural, Director of APT Regional Office for Latin America. “We join other human rights organisations in calling on the State to establish an independent commission to monitor developments of the announced investigation.”

Getting to the truth and holding those responsible to account is an indispensable step to breaking the culture of impunity. Mark Thomson, APT’s Secretary General stressed that “Preventing law-enforcement abuses and ill-treatment requires a clear public stand by authorities to uphold the rule of law and promote safe societies, including for brave human rights defenders."