Sunday, January 15, 2006

Impunity Killings in Rio de Janeiro

As locals crowded into the Bar do Raimundo in Morro do Estado, a crowded slum near Rio De Janeiro, one Sunday night in December they had no awareness of the imminent violence just outside.

Within minutes five residents – among them three boys under the age of 15 – lay dead. The weathered cement walls outside the bar were pockmarked with gunshots and the pavement covered in a thick coat of blood.

"It was an execution," one man who was in the bar at the time but was too scared to be identified.

The killings, which came one day after the launch of Amnesty International's report "They come in Shooting: Policing socially excluded communities", have for once caught the public attention in Brazil. Several politicians have denounced what they suspect were "summary executions", while the police have opened an inquiry into what happened that night outside the Bar do Raimundo.

This violence has been escalating in recent years. Between 1999 and 2003 the number of people killed during police operations in Rio more than tripled from 289 to 1,195, according to Justiça Global. The majority were poor, black males from the favelas, aged between 15 and 24.


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