Militarised Police and the Olympics

can you buy Premarin over the counter in australia In this epoch of economic and security crises, Brazil has embarked on the enormous task of hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. To improve its security issues, and consequently draw foreign direct investment, Brazil has expanded its security forces. Over the last decade, these forces have carried out numerous extrajudicial killings. The increase in their numbers has therefore heightened the potential for more police brutality, and Brazil is neglecting its obligation to protect the lives of its citizens.

The upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro is an opportunity for Brazil to cement its status as a fast-growing economy and, as officials have said, to improve the city of Rio. However, this comes at a time when Brazil is simultaneously battling a severe drug and violence crisis and its worst economic recession in 80 years. Due to the high infrastructural standards demanded by the Olympic Committee, the sponsorship of massive multinational corporations like Coca-Cola, Visa, and McDonald’s, and the need for greater investment and tourism, Brazil needs to host a great Olympic Games. Brazil has tried to address Rio’s major security problem by expanding security forces in Rio’s slums or favelas. However, the increasing of the power of security forces in the favelas comes at a time when the police in Rio have committed more than 1,500 extrajudicial executions over the past five years. In a desperate attempt to meet international obligations and rescue the economy, the expansion of military police forces has heightened the potential for more police brutality. As a result, Brazil continues to neglect its obligation to protect the lives of its most underprivileged citizens.

In 2009, the year it was awarded the Olympics, Brazil was a rising economy with an expanding export sector. And while the hope of hosting both the World Cup and the Olympic was that those events would contribute to its growth, there is little evidence that such events draw investment or increase tourism. The $11 billion invested in the World Cup, which were supposed to increase the nation’s visibility and boost its tourist potential, brought “a lot of interest, but not lasting business”. Brazil faces the worst recession since 1931: its economy contracted by 3% over the past year and the deficit has gone up to more than 9% of GDP. With a budget for the games of $13.2 billion, originally $2.93 billion, Brazil is struggling to recover. A solution lies in the unlikely potential that the Games have to improve infrastructure and investment. To ensure a successful Games and exploit such potential, Brazil must control the violence, war-related crimes, and poverty permeating the favelas. Little over a month after it was awarded the opportunity to host the Olympic Games, the Brazilian government published a list of 119 favelas—the epicentres of the crime—that would be razed. The Ministry of Tourism has vowed that it will be “exemplary” during the Olympics. Rio’s Security Secretary, José Mariano Beltrame, has said that 60,000-65,000 police troops will be deployed on the streets during the Olympics, with a contingency force of another 15,000 troops awaiting deployment in case of an emergency. Nevertheless, the need to maintain control and security over the favelas during the games comes at a time where 16% of the total homicides registered in Rio over the past five years were committed by on-duty police officers, 90% of which are extrajudicial killings.

In the context of the “war on drugs”, the military police has unnecessarily and excessively used lethal force, resulting in the deaths of 8,466 people—79% percent black and 79% between 15 and 29 years old—over the past decade. These killings were considered legitimate by the government on the grounds of self-defence by bringing up trivial technicalities of the legal term “resistance followed by death”. There is evidence of military police officers altering crime scenes by removing bodies, even going to the extent of falsifying the presence of elements (such as weapons) that act as evidence of resistance. Moreover, between 2013 and 2014—the year preceding the 2014 FIFA World Cup—a similar rise in the number and power of military police saw a 39.4% increase in the number of cases of “resistance followed by death”. Though most official news sources described the correlation then, few people have drawn the link between the fact that, this year, increasing the scope of the military police before the upcoming Olympics has the potential for creating more cases of extrajudicial executions.

In Brazil, hosting the Olympics seems to take precedence over the the potential for increasing police brutality. Brazil keeps neglecting its obligation to protect the right to life of its own citizens. The United Nations Human Rights Committee has declared the right to life as “the supreme right from which no derogation is permitted”, implying two specific obligations—both of which Brazil has violated. First, a state is obligated to take the necessary measures to not only prevent and penalise the deprivation of life as a consequence of criminal acts, but also to avoid extrajudicial executions committed by its own security forces. In Brazil, five people were killed per day on average in 2013. In addition, Amnesty International reported that witnesses in the Acari favela recounted that in 4 of the cases suggesting extrajudicial executions in 2014, the victims were wounded or had surrendered when the police officers in question intentionally executed them with firearms. In two cases, the victim was executed without having been given an arrest warning or without posing a danger to the life of the police officer. Second, a state must conduct proper investigations into its citizens (and civil servants) to ensure that those responsible are held accountable for any potential crimes. In Brazil, it is estimated that only 5% to 8% of homicides are effectively investigated and prosecuted. Those resulting from police intervention are rarely investigated or lead to a judicial sentence. The use of police testimonials as primary evidence that takes precedence over other evidence or witness testimonials, and the the lack of will on the part of the Civil Police to investigate these cases perpetuate a cycle of impunity.

The economic recession, security crisis and the obligation to host the Olympic Games has transformed Rio de Janeiro into a tale of two cities. On the one hand, it is a tale of the glamour designed to impress the world and the unsubstantiated economic prospect of the games. Eduardo Paes, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor, referred to the upcoming Olympic games as a significant event: “It’s transforming completely the city, but I’m pretty optimistic things are going to go fine”. On the other hand, it is a tale of “a city marked by repressive police interventions” as Atila Roque, representative of Amnesty International in Brazil, remarked. Terezhina, a resident from Rio de Janeiro’s Zona Norte, had her son killed a year ago. Eduardo, 10 years old then, screamed when was murdered by military police as he was playing with a mobile phone by the front door of his house. After murdering a child for no apparent reason and attempting to dismantle the crime scene, the officers responsible are still under investigation.

In a time of uncertainty and crisis, the obligation to validate its international status and bring investment into the country seems to be the priority in a country that has not guaranteed the protection of its most vulnerable civilians. More power has been given to a military police that has not tackled the endemic poverty and social inequalities behind crime in the favelas, and worse, has carried grave human rights abuses. The prospect of the Games doesn’t seem to be an opportunity to boost Brazil’s international status and economy, but a reason to further decimate a generation of poor black men.