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Wednesday, Oct 04, 2023

Military Police carry out an operation against drug trafficking in the favelas of the north zone of the city, in October 2022.

Brazil: at least 45 killed in string of police operations in three states

A week of devastating police violence has left at least 45 people dead across three Brazilian states. Ten individuals lost their lives in an operation against drug traffickers in the Rio de Janeiro favela, while the north-eastern state of Bahia witnessed 19 fatalities during clashes with the military police. The death toll has risen to 16 in an ongoing police operation in São Paulo's Baixada Santista region, marking one of the deadliest operations carried out by the São Paulo police.
The São Paulo operation, known as Operation Shield, involved 600 officers and was initiated following the killing of a police officer last Thursday. Despite having made numerous arrests and seized significant amounts of narcotics, the operation has faced accusations of being a revenge-fuelled massacre from human rights organisations and residents, who also reported threats and cases of torture.

The state governor defended the police's actions, arguing they were responding to attacks from criminals. However, human rights and security experts have called for scrutiny into the police’s actions, emphasising the need for investigations into potential abuses.

Brazil's state military police forces are known for their violence and high death rates compared to civilian counterparts. Despite hopes for reform with the return to power of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, experts suggest a recently approved senate committee bill will not adequately address vital public security issues, such as the need for police body cameras.

David Marques of the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety has said the recent killings could mark a significant turning point for public security in Brazil’s largest state, indicating a political discourse that promotes violence as a means of combating it.

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