(TELESUR) – During the first six months of the year, 881 people were killed at the hands of police and security forces in Rio alone.
During the first six months of 2019 the number of murders at the hands of police reached 881. Meanwhile, no police officer died on duty between January and July of this year, compared to July last year when four officials were killed in the line of duty.
Rio police, both civil and military, have been heavily criticized by human rights groups and the Ombudsman’s Office for excessive use of the force and extra-judicial killings, often breaking into homes without a warrant and shooting from helicopters during police operations, among other tactics.
Although Congress has managed to curb, at least momentarily, the decrees Bolsonaro is issuing, seeking to relax arms possession laws in Brazil, the far-right leader has not abandoned his intention to promote the use of guns.
Since assuming power in January, President Jair Bolsonaro, a 63-year-old former Army captain and admirer of Brazil’s military dictatorship of 1964 to 1985 and U.S. President Donald Trump, has threatened to pass laws that will allow police and civilians to “shoot suspected offenders” without fear of prosecution. The Brazilian president has also said the nation’s civilian security forces should be decorated for using guns, not taken to court.
Río de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel, a right-wing ally of Bolosonaro and a supporter of the right of police to kill with impunity, had ordered the police to use snipers and murder anyone who they think is carrying a weapon, resulting in 90 percent of the police shooting victims being young, Black, males from poor favelas.