British radio presenter Carolyn Quinn interviewed Tim Cahill from Amnesty International at her Today show on Radio 4 about the pressure the Brazilian government is putting on the British police to investigate the death of Brazilian national, Jean Charles de Menezes, mistakenly killed by the Scotland Yard.
According to Amnesty International, more than a thousand people were killed by police, in 2003, in the city of Rio de Janeiro alone. This would show Brazil has little authority to demand torough investigation when they have a dismal record when it comes to investigating police killings in Brazil.
Carolyn Quinn: While the family of Jean Charles de Menezes – the innocent man shot dead on the Underground – continues to mourn their son, Brazilian officials have been in London carrying out their own inquiries into how the electrician was mistaken for a suicide bomber.
Tim Cahill from Amnesty International: We’re extremely concerned by the situation in Brazil, but I think it’s important for us to just precede that by saying that Amnesty International doesn’t do any kind of hierarchies in terms of human rights.
The situation in Brazil shouldn’t in any way minimize the concern that Amnesty feels for the case of Jean Charles de Menezes. However, the level of killings by police in Brazil has long been denounced by Amnesty International, and has long been documented by us, and the failure by the authorities to investigate and put an end to these has long been a concern.
For example, two cases were denounced yesterday, in Rio de Janeiro, one involving people in a community in the outskirts of Rio, where five people were killed in questionable circumstances, and another one when an 11-year-old boy was killed in the community of Josenia.
We’re urging the authorities to investigate these, and to show the same concern that they’re showing for the de Menezes case, and respect all Brazilians’ human rights.
CQ: There are reports of police going through the city’s poor suburbs firing at random. What image does the concept of human rights have in Brazil? Do people respect it?
TC: One of the great problems at the moment is that human rights has a very negative image. It’s seen as the protection of criminals, a way of negating the rights of other citizens in their protection against the very high level of crimes that exist in the country today. So there is a feeling – a popular feeling – amongst many people that violent methods of policing are justified in the fight against crime.
CQ: Yet the British police have been training Brazilian police in human rights.
TC: This is the point, and a very important point. Britain has been one of the leading countries in terms of promoting good policing in Brazil, and promoting the idea that actually through professional policing you can get more effective security and at the same time more effective human rights.