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Deadly police shootout in Brazil prompts claims of abuse

Police stand guard at the entrance of Jacarezinho slum in Rio de Janeiro.   | Photo Credit: AP

A bloody, hourslong gunbattle in a Rio de Janeiro slum echoed into Friday, with authorities saying the police mission killed two dozen criminals while residents and activists claimed human rights abuses.

It was just after sunrise Thursday when dozens of officers from Rio de Janeiro state’s civil police stormed Jacarezinho, a favela in the city’s northern zone. They were targeting drug traffickers from one of Brazil’s most notorious criminal organizations, Comando Vermelho, and the bodies piled up quickly.

When the fighting stopped, there were 25 dead — one police officer and 24 people described by the police as “criminals.”

Rio’s moniker of “Marvelous City” can often seem a cruel irony in the favelas, given their violent conflicts, stark poverty and subjugation to drug traffickers or militias. But even here, Thursday’s clash was a jarring anomaly that analysts declared one of the city’s deadliest police operations ever.

And it was by far the most violent since Brazil’s Supreme Court issued a ruling banning most such actions during the pandemic, which drew a rebuke from the UN’s human rights office.

The bloodshed also laid bare Brazil’s perennial divide over whether, as a common local saying goes, “a good criminal is a dead criminal.” Fervent law-and-order sentiment fuelled the successful presidential run in 2018 by Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain whose home is in Rio. He drew support from much of society with his calls to diminish legal constraints on officers’ use of lethal force against criminals.

The administration of Rio state’s Governor Cláudio Castro, a Bolsonaro ally, said that it lamented the deaths, but that the operation was “oriented by long and detailed investigative and intelligence work that took months.”


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Printable version | Jun 22, 2021 11:14:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/deadly-police-shootout-in-brazil-prompts-claims-of-abuse/article34509433.ece

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