LatinNews Daily - 03 February 2022

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BRAZIL: Calls for justice over killing of Congolese refugee

On 2 February, Brazil’s former president Lula da Silva (2003-2011) joined in with the calls for justice to be served for Moïse Mugenyi Kabagambe, a Congolese refugee who was brutally killed in the city of Rio de Janeiro last week.


Kabagambe’s killing has outraged Brazil. The 24-year-old was tied up and beaten to death by at least three men on 24 January at a beachside kiosk in the upmarket neighbourhood of Barra da Tijuca in Rio, reportedly after requesting back pay for two days of work. The circumstances of his death reached the public sphere this week, prompting an outpouring of rage and shock. Civil society organisations in Brazil including the Coalizão Negra por Direitos have denounced the killing as a further sign of structural racism and of growing violence and xenophobia in the country.  

  • NGOs Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) both issued statements on 1 February calling for a rapid and transparent investigation. AI noted that it was not until the crime became public knowledge, six days after it took place, that authorities began taking action. Kabagambe’s assasination “is deplorable and deserves absolute repudiation by Brazilian society,” HRW wrote, stressing “the extremely serious context of violence against Brazil’s black population”.   
  • Lula, who yesterday said that Kabagambe’s “brutal” killing “is not normal, is not human”, is just the latest politician to speak out. Other prospective presidential candidates have expressed their shock and sorrow. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro city, Eduardo Paes, condemned the killing as “unacceptable and shocking” on 1 February, and said municipal authorities would accompany the police investigation. 
  • President Jair Bolsonaro has not commented on Kabagambe’s death, although the foreign ministry issued a note on 1 February expressing its indignation. Kabagambe had arrived as a refugee in Brazil from the Democratic Republic of Congo 10 years ago.
  • Yesterday three men were arrested in relation to Kabagambe’s killing. Police are also seeking to question the owner of the kiosk at which Kabagambe worked.

Looking Ahead: Protests in solidarity with Brazil’s Congolese community and to demand justice for Kabagambe’s death are planned to take place in Rio and São Paulo city on 5 February.

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