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Brazil must ensure justice for rights defender Marielle Franco killed a year ago, say UN and IACHR experts

GENEVA / WASHINGTON DC – Brazil must ensure that the killers of human rights defender and city councillor Marielle Franco are brought to justice, say a group of human rights experts* on the anniversary of her death.

Marielle Franco, and her driver Anderson Gomes, were shot dead in their car on 14 March 2018 while returning from a public event. Two former policemen suspected of participating in the murder were arrested on 12 March 2019.


The killing of Marielle Franco is an attack on the heart of a democratic society and an emblematic case of the threats faced by human rights defenders in Brazil,” said the experts from the UN and the Inter-American Commission on human rights.


“If the State fails to deliver justice in this case, it would send an alarming message to human rights defenders, in particular those facing threats and attacks.


“Marielle was a source of hope and inspiration in Rio de Janeiro and beyond. She worked tirelessly to promote women’s rights, racial equality, and the rights of LGBTI people.”


Ms. Franco also campaigned on behalf of people of African descent and young people in urban areas. She decried the excessive use of force by the military and the actions of militias operating in Rio de Janeiro.


We acknowledge the work carried out by police investigators and prosecutors, and the concrete progress made in recent days, but more must be done to establish the motives for the attack and uncover those behind it. Brazil must not take the path of impunity,” the experts said.


The State has an obligation to ensure a thorough, independent and impartial investigation into these killings. We urge Brazil to conclude the investigation as soon as possible by bringing the intellectual and material perpetrators to justice and providing reparation and compensation for the families.




Note: Additional information has been submitted by the Government in relation to the ongoing investigation, including charges brought against two alleged perpetrators and plans to provide financial compensation to the families.


(*) United Nations experts: Mr. Michal Balcerzak (Poland), Chair of the Working Group of Experts on People of African DescentMs Agnes Callamard (France), Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executionsMr. David Kaye (USA),Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expressionMr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule (Togo),Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Michel Forst (France), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defendersMr. Philip Alston (Australia), Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rightsMs E. Tendayi Achiume (Zambia), Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intoleranceMs Dubravka Šimonović (Croatia), Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequencesMs Ivana Radačić (Croatia), Chair of the Working Group on the issue of discrimination against women in law and in practiceMr. Victor Madrigal-Borloz (Costa Rica), Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; Ms Leilani Farha (Canada), Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context; Experts from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: Ms Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, President of the IACHRMs Antonia Urrejola, Second Vice-President of the IACHR and country rapporteur for Brazil; Mr. Francisco Eguiguren, Rapporteur on the rights of Human Rights Defenders.


Photo credits: Capture d'écran du clip de campagne du PSOL - 2016. © https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKSWfgZLKMA

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