Police violence in Brazil is unabated, Human Rights Watch warned on Thursday, calling on the government to take action against a spate of extrajudicial killings.
In its latest report on human rights in 90 countries, HRW said that 437 police officers were killed in Brazil in 2016, the vast majority of them while off duty. The same year, police officers killed at least 4,224 people, about 26 percent more than in 2015, according to the latest available data.
“Brazilian police desperately need community cooperation to fight high levels of crime that plague the country,” said Maria Laura Canineu, HRW’s Brazil director. “But as long as some police officers beat and execute people with impunity, communities will not trust the police.”
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Illegal killings by some officers also endanger other officers, exposing them to reprisals during gang clashes.
“While some police killings result from legitimate use of force, others are extrajudicial executions,” the report said.
The New York-based group said implementation of Brazil’s anti-domestic violence legislation was “lagging.”
“Specialized women’s police stations have insufficient staff, are most often closed during evenings and weekends, and remain concentrated in major cities. Thousands of cases each year are never properly investigated,” it noted.
In 2016, 4,657 women were killed in Brazil, according to the report.
Children are also increasingly unprotected. The report said a new bill under discussion would worsen detention center overcrowding by raising the maximum time that juveniles can be held.
“In June, nine children were killed by other children in severely overcrowded detention facilities in Paraiba and Pernambuco. And in November, alleged gang members kidnapped six children from a detention unit in Ceara and executed four of them.”