UN ‘deeply disturbed’ by Rio slum killings

8 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

GENEVA: The United Nations voiced alarm Friday at a massive police operation in a Brazilian favela that left more than two dozen people dead, and urged an independent investigation.

At least 25 people were killed early Thursday when police raided Jacarezinho, on Rio de Janeiro’s north side, in an operation police said targeted a gang suspected of recruiting children and teenagers, reports AFP.

“We’re deeply disturbed by the killings,” UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva, adding that the operation appeared to be the deadliest in more than a decade in Rio de Janeiro.

“We remind the Brazilian authorities that the use of force should be applied only when strictly necessary, and that they should always respect the principle of legality, precaution, necessity and proportionality,” he said. “Lethal force should be used as a last resort, and only in cases where there is an imminent threat to life or a serious injury.”

Police said the operation targeted a gang suspected of recruiting children and teenagers for drug trafficking, robberies, assaults and murders.

The neighbourhood is considered a base for the Comando Vermelho, or Red Command, Rio’s biggest drug gang.

Colville said the UN rights office had received “worrying” reports that police did not take steps to preserve evidence of the crime scene, “which could hinder investigations into the tragic outcome of this lethal operation”.

“We call upon the office of the prosecutor to conduct an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the case in accordance with international standards.”

Colville also stressed the need for “a broad and inclusive discussion in Brazil about the current model of policing in favelas, which are trapped in a vicious cycle of lethal violence with a dramatically, adverse impact on already struggling populations”.

Rio, a city of 6.7 million people, is notorious for its violence.