United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed concern on Wednesday (Mar. 7) with the deployment of the military in the fight against crime in general and mentioned the federal intervention being implemented in Rio for public security.
“In Brazil, I’m concerned with the recent adoption of a decree that gives authority to the Armed Forces to fight crime in the state of Rio de Janeiro and places the police under the command of the Army,” Hussein said while speaking at the 37th Human Rights Council Session in Geneva, Switzerland.
On February 16, President Michel Temer signed a decree putting General Walter Souza Braga Netto in charge of the public security in Rio de Janeiro state as interventor. The document gives General Netto full powers to exert his authority over all law enforcement bodies—both the civil and military police forces, as well as the Military Fire Department.
Zeid Al Hussein said the Armed Forces do not specialize in public security and investigation and urged the government to ensure human rights are respected. “I ask the government to ensure that the security measures respect the human rights parameters and that effective measures are adopted to avoid racial screening [the selection of suspects based on skin color] and the criminalization of the poor.”
Hussein talked about the installation of observatories to monitor the intervention and highlighted the importance of society’s participation. In his address, Hussein mentioned the human rights situation in several countries.
Brazil Public Security Minister Raul Jungmann rebutted Hussein’s statements, saying that the work of the Armed Forces in the country has proved “exemplary.” He mentioned the Enforcement of Law and Order operations, in which the military agents addressed specific situations across Brazilian cities. “We’ve conducted 11 operations. Tell me what human rights have been disrespected so far. What complaints have been made? These are over 90 thousand men and women, in the 11 [operations]. I believe the performance of the Armed Forces has been exemplary,” the minister said.
*Marcelo Brandão contributed to this article
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira