- 16 Mar 2019
- [International Secretariat]
- Region: FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL
Responding to reports that Brazilian police have arrested two men in Rio de Janeiro over the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes on 14 March 2018, Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:
“This week marks one year since Marielle Franco was brutally killed, in an attack which devastated the many communities whose rights she fought to defend. Marielle’s killing was a blatant attempt to silence a brave human rights defender, who had devoted her life to advocating for women, LGBTI people and black youth in Rio favelas.”
“These arrests are the first sign of progress in an investigation that has barely moved in the year since the killings. We are calling for the Brazilian authorities to ensure that investigations are independent and impartial, and to bring all those responsible, including those who ordered the crime, to justice in fair trials.”
“There is no better way to honour Marielle Franco’s amazing legacy than by committing to protect human rights defenders and ensuring they can safely continue their vital work.”
Known for defending the human rights of young black people, women, favela residents and LGBTI people, Marielle – herself a black bisexual woman born in a favela – was elected a Rio de Janeiro city councillor in 2016. She had previously served on Rio de Janeiro’s State Human Rights Commission from 2006 to 2016, where she frequently spoke out about extrajudicial executions and other human rights violations committed by police officers and state security forces. Shortly before she was killed, Marielle was appointed to monitor the federal intervention into public security in Rio de Janeiro.
Reports in the press suggest the murder weapon was a HK-MP5 submachinegun, a model whose use in Brazil is restricted to security and military personnel and certain criminal justice officials.
Witnesses said that both Marielle’s car and that of her killers were moving when the shots were fired. The precision of the shots, which hit Marielle several times in the head, indicate that the shooter had undergone specialist training. Surveillance cameras at the exact scene of the crime were switched off one or two days before. Other surveillance footage shows two cars cameras following Marielle on the night of her killing. Local media reported that their number plates were false.
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