Brazil: Guarantee Protesters’ Rights

Publicado Originalmente: 07/09/2016

(São Paulo) – Brazilian authorities should conduct thorough and impartial investigations into the police use of force and detentions of protesters during recent anti-government demonstrations, Human Rights Watch said today.

The demonstrators were protesting the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff, who lost the presidency of Brazil on August 31, 2016, and was replaced by her former vice president, Michel Temer. The largest demonstration took place in São Paulo on September 4, which organizers said attracted 100,000 participants.

Several videos publicized by news media and posted on social media point to the apparent excessive use force by police, including officers who appeared to purposely hit a protester with a patrol car, beat a lawyer and a reporter, and shoot rubber bullets and to use pepper spray on protesters at short range.

“Brazilian authorities need to ensure that the police respect the rights of protesters and journalists,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “That means providing clear instructions on proper forms of crowd-control, and ensuring that any officers who use excessive force or commit other abuses are held accountable.”

New protests are scheduled for September 7.

One of the videos shows a patrol car chasing a protester in São Paulo on September 1. The driver of the car appears to intentionally hit the protester, who runs alone. Afterward, the officers handcuff the man and put him in the back of the vehicle. A video recorded the same day in Caxias do Sul shows police hitting a lawyer repeatedly with their batons. The man later said he had approached the officers while they were detaining two protesters and identified himself as an attorney.

Another video from September 4 shows a São Paulo police officer using pepper spray at short range against seemingly peaceful protesters as his patrol car passes them. A BBC reporter said several police officers hit him with their batons even after he identified himself as a journalist. A video of a protest the same day in Belém appears to show a police officer shooting a protester in the head at close range with a rubber bullet.

During a protest on August 31 in São Paulo, a stun grenade exploded near a 19-year-old student, whose eye was apparently perforated by a fragment, seriously injuring her.

Police detained 18 adults and eight children before the September 4 demonstration started in São Paulo, alleging they were going to participate in acts of vandalism. Officers said they found stones, masks, and an iron bar with some of the people they had detained, while the detainees claim the police planted the iron bar. Attorneys and family members said the police denied them contact with the detainees for five hours, and interrogated them without a lawyer. A judge released those who were over 18 on September 5, after ruling their detention was unlawful. Another judge released the eight children the same day.

On August 31, police detained two photographers who were covering the protests in São Paulo. One said police officers beat him and destroyed his equipment, news media reported. They were released the next day

While the demonstrations have been largely peaceful, some protesters have engaged in acts of violence and vandalism, including throwing bottles at police officers, destroying bank windows, and setting garbage on fire in the streets, the police and news media reported.

International human rights treaties ratified by Brazil and the country´s own constitution obligate the government to safeguard the rights of freedom of expression and association. Authorities should ensure that any acts of violence by protesters are met with a proportionate response, Human Rights Watch said, while also respecting the right of protesters to demonstrate.

The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers state that law enforcement officials “shall, as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force and firearms.” Whenever the use of force is unavoidable, security forces should “[e]xercise restraint in such use and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved,” the principles say.

“If any protesters engage in violence, the authorities have every right to bring them to justice and restore order,” Canineu said. “But that does not justify the use of excessive force against demonstrators.”

FONTE: Human Rights Watch


3 respostas em “Brazil: Guarantee Protesters’ Rights

  1. With the departure of President Dilma and her political party (PT) of power, we returned to observe very common scenes in pre PT edge, when this political party was opposed to the government, where each week we saw these same anti-government demonstrations organized by trade unions. For what reason such manifestations ceased to exist during the 16 years of the PT government? Such unions were provided with inexhaustible sources of public resources in order to keep them under control. With the departure of PT, the sources dried up! Is there an explanation for these systematic manifestations, where most have the participation of thugs who prey upon the public and private heritage. In my view the government has an obligation to contain such excesses, for chaos and disorder not settle in our country. Of course, excesses should be avoided and human rights preserved, but we can not condone the mess that the PT wants to install in our country.

  2. Actually , what is happening in Brazil is a simple social response , a mere exercise of democracy. We cannot confuse acts of protest with an exclusively political framework . It is well known that a large number of protests have a political background, but what must be clear is: even if the events are packed with politics, it is crucial not crush them. The manifestations for social issues or those driven by political parties are activities of democracy , and if they are within the rule of law they must be guaranteed. What is unacceptable is the reprehension with extreme force by the police, in a clear attempt to restrain the freedom of choice, and this is happening in our country. If we look over the wall, we are going to see that the police did not act with equity, even though, they insist in saying that their actions are within the principle of social security and order. We must keep peace and control in the State, but assuring equal exercise of manifestation. Thus, we have the duty of encouraging the police to restrain the acts of vandalism and illegal activities within the demonstrators.
    Preserving human rights is more than an obligation for our State, for the brazilian Constitution certifies: “international treaties and conventions on human rights that are approved in each house of Congress, in two rounds , by three fifths of the votes of its members, shall be equivalent to constitutional amendments. “. In other words , our Constitution guarantees human rights as fundamental rights.
    To conclude, our law says: ” all power emanates from people…”; and more: ” All are equal before the law, without distinction of any kind , guaranteeing to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the country the inviolability of the right to life, FREEDOM , equality, SECURITY and property …” . Let’s be honest, the republic without political opposition is not a republic. Worse, the Republic that does not allow controversies , and so violently scolds any kind of manifestation is anything but a ” res publica “. We could say that patterns like these are characterized as absolutism or its worst form , totalitarianism, and we should avoid such actions for the sake of the Republic and our nation. Thus, it is necessary to protect freedom of speech, but fighting against any act of vandalism to ensure order and the proper development of the “rule of law.”

  3. Protests over the impeachment of former President Dilma Rousseff that took place on 31 August were marked by serious violence by the São Paulo State Police over the protesters, representing a serious disregard for the constitutional principles. Such as those in Article 5,XVI referred to the permission of free expression, a fundamental article for the maintenance of the democratic rule of law, beyond this, paragraph 2 of the same Article provides that the fundamental rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution doesn’t exclude others stemming from international treaties which Brazil is a part. In addition to these principles that should be followed, Brazil also ratified treaties on the obligation to respect human rights, therefore, it’s forced legally to obey such obligatory content. The guarantee to protest is a fundamental right, such rights are not limited to statements of the constitutional legislator, besides being immutable clause,they can’t be abolished.
    The international protection of human rights is recently systematized matter, inserted in the center of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. The Federal Constitution of 1988 was a landmark in the issue of the guarantee of human rights, including in relation to international law. Thus, ensuring the protests, being a fundamental right, it should be widely supported and can not be disregarded by arbitrary orders, coming from isolated institutions, such as what is happening in São Paulo.

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