The United Nations has accused Brazilian police of killing street children to “clean the streets” ahead of the Olympic Games 2016 to be hosted in Rio de Janeiro.
The accusation, which appeared in a report on treatment of youth in several countries published earlier this week, claims that the security forces, particularly the military police, are directly linked to the “elevated number of summary executions of children,” allegedly facilitated by “widespread impunity.”
According to Renate Winter, vice president of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, this wave of violence is not new but is most palpable in Rio de Janeiro in order to “present a problem-free city to the world.”
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According to Article 144 of the constitution, the Military Police forces including the infamous Battalion of Special Operations (BOPE) in Parana, are subordinate to state governors. During the military dictatorship, these forces would often be used to quell strikes and protests.
“We have observed similar events during the World Cup in 2014 and now we wondered if this phenomenon was addressed as it should have been in order to avoid a repetition” said committee member Gehad Madi.
In July, a UNICEF report similarly found that 28 people under 19 were killed every day in Brazil, double the number when the country passed a law to protect minors in 1990. This death rate is higher than in war zones, according to the agency.
Local authorities contradicted to the report, stating that Rio de Janeiro is the second Brazilian state that has reduced homicides against children and adolescents between 2000 and 2013.
The U.N. study coincided with the release of a Public Security report showing that homicides in Brazil have increased in 2014, from 55,878 registered murders in 2013 to 58,559 last year.
Brazil has one of the highest number of homicides worldwide with 56,000 reported in 2012. More than 50 percent of the homicides that year were victims aged between 15 and 29, while 77 percent were Black.
In Rio de Janeiro alone, police were responsible for 8,471 homicides between 2005 and 2014.
At a national level, police were responsible for more than 11,197 homicides between 2009 and 2013, according a study by the Sao Paulo-based Brazilian Forum on Public Safety.