Crime & Justice

Amnesty Intl: Marielle Franco case is portrait of impunity in Brazil

By Carlos A. Moreno

Rio de Janeiro, Mar 13 (EFE).- The unsolved murder of a Brazilian councilwoman, leftist activist and human rights defender Marielle Franco, which occurred five years ago on Tuesday, is a portrait of impunity in Brazil, Amnesty International (AI) said.

“For us, it’s regrettable. Brazil is the No. 4 country in the world for murders of human rights defenders. So, the unsolved murder of Marielle five years ago is a living portrait of, as we say in Brazil, ‘Here killing is like nothing,'” Amnesty International’s executive director for Brazil, Jurema Werneck, told EFE in an interview.

The activist said that Franco’s case is emblematic for the organization, which since the very start has been closely following it and is involved with the relatives in all the campaigns demanding answers from the authorities.

“From the first moment, we’ve taken on the public commitment not to let this case die along with Marielle. And we’re going to remain mobilized until (we get) the final answer,” Werneck said.

Franco was shot to death on March 14, 2018, and her murder shocked Brazil and had significant international repercussions because the activist, a black lesbian born in a “favela” or shantytown, had made a name for herself for her firm defense of human rights, her initiatives to support minorities and for her stance in combating the existence of para-police groups.

The councilwoman was killed on a downtown Rio de Janeiro street along with her driver, Anderson Gomes, after she had participated in an event for black women.

Despite the fact that the authorities in 2019 arrested two ex-police officers and accused them of being the murderers, the investigation to date has neither identified the intellectual authors of the crime nor clarified the motive for it.

Werneck said that, since nobody has been brought to trial or convicted, it has not been proven that the accused took part in “the tragedy,” and thus impunity continues in the case.

“For a long time, Brazil has been the country of impunity. We hope that Marielle’s legacy may contribute to ending impunity (here),” Werneck said.

Representatives of AI and Franco’s relatives met last Thursday with the new team of prosecutors responsible for the investigation, the fifth such team to date, but they had nothing new to present regarding the case.

“There have already been more than a dozen prosecutors involved in the case in five years; three presidents of the Republic, three governors (of Rio de Janeiro state), three attorneys general, three police chiefs … and no answer,” Werneck said.

She went on to say that AI views positively the expressed intention of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to cooperate in the investigations and clear up the crime, but she noted that this is nothing more than one of the government’s obligations.

Lula, who named Franco’s sister Anielle to be his Racial Equality minister, ordered the Federal Police to create a support group to cooperate in the investigations.

“We have met over these five years with all the authorities and absolutely all of them said that the Federal Police were already cooperating, and we’re still in the same place,” she said.

Werneck also said that AI’s main demand is for the creation of an external commission to monitor and follow the investigations, given that the authorities have made many mistakes.

“And not only in Marielle’s case. It’s necessary to recall that Brazil is the No. 4 nation in the world for murders of human rights defenders and in the majority of those cases there is impunity, which proves that the institutions are not managing to respond at the necessary level,” she said.

She added that she hopes that the new team of investigators and Lula’s government will do their duty and clear up the crime, not to mention responding to the more than 20 questions posed by AI over the past five years that have gone unanswered.

“There are a lot of question marks. We don’t want to know just who killed Marielle and who ordered her killed,” Werneck said.


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