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News > Brazil

Brazil: Governor Gives Shoot-To-Kill Order Against Criminals

  • The governor of Rio de Janeiro gave the order

    The governor of Rio de Janeiro gave the order "to kill criminals who carry rifles" during a speech on Thursday. | Photo: Reuters FILE

Published 4 January 2019

Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel said the state needs its own "Guantanamo" to "put the terrorists" away.

Activists in Brazil have expressed outrage after the recently sworn-in governor of Rio de Janeiro state authorized police to use lethal force against criminals.

Brazil: Deaths Related to Military Intervention in Rio de Janeiro Increase 150 Percent in August

Wilson Witzel, sworn in as governor of Rio de Janeiro state on January 1, reinforced his campaign promise "to kill criminals who carry rifles" during an interview on Thursday.

Governor Witzel is a former federal judge who unexpectedly won the elections in October.

During the swearing-in ceremony of his new secretary of the Police of Rio de Janeiro, Marcus Vinicius Braga, he later said criminals carrying rifles will be treated as terrorists.

"We need to have our Guantánamo, we must put the terrorists in places where society is definitely free of them," he said.

"Organized crime can no longer have the freedom to carry weapons of war and be treated romantically as people who didn’t have opportunities.”

Witzel then told the police officers present that they can count on the judicial support of the Public Defender's Office.

"I tell you, military policemen: do not be afraid. The Public Defender offices will be there with you to defend you. You will have the defenders to defend you. You will be protected," Witzel said.

Witzel's comments are in line with the far-right rhetoric of Jair Bolsonaro, based on his zero-tolerance policy towards crime.

According to Witzel, "the anti-terrorism law can increase the sentence limit from 30 to 50 years, increase the fully closed, no-visit regime in detached prisons, far from civilization."

For human rights defenders, this is a dangerous step back because Brazil has no death penalty.

Such declarations could exacerbate the already high violence rate in Rio de Janeiro, one of the most violent states in Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro's deadliest year was 2018, with 1,444 killings, when the Brazilian military took control of public security, based on a federal intervention.

"Following the line of President Bolsonaro, Governor Witzel has already begun to offer fascist solutions for imaginary problems. What terrorists? Where did you see terrorists in Brazil?" wrote Brazilian journalist Bruno Bimbi on Twitter on Friday.

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