LatinNews Daily - 26 November 2021

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BRAZIL: Bolsonaro defends judicial protection for police who kill

On 25 November, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro defended giving legal protection to police officers who kill in the line of duty. 


These comments come in the wake of another high-profile deadly police operation in the state of Rio de Janeiro late last week, which prompted calls for a thorough investigation from the United Nations (UN). In defending that police officers who kill in the line of duty be protected from prosecution via a legal mechanism known as the ‘exclusion from illegality’, Bolsonaro is harking back to a promise he made as presidential candidate in 2018, but has so far been unable to deliver.

  • “We have to fight for our exclusion from illegality. We will complete this mission. You can be sure that it will reduce violence, and by a lot, in our Brazil”, Bolsonaro said yesterday during an event held to deliver policing equipment to the Brazilian border police. “A police officer can’t carry out his mission and then the next day receive a visit from a judicial official”, Bolsonaro argued. 
  • Attempts by the Bolsonaro government to pass legislation protecting police officers in this way, which critics equate to a license to kill, have been unsuccessful so far.
  • Violent policing is under scrutiny, particularly in Rio de Janeiro where a supreme court (STF) ruling issued last year banned police operations in favelas for the duration of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, except in exceptional circumstances. Public security data show the measure was successful in bringing down police killings at the start, but police operations have continued nonetheless and the Rio police were still responsible for 1,563 deaths between June 2020 (when the ban came into effect) and October 2021, according to figures reported by news site G1.  

Looking Ahead: The tough-on-crime public security agenda was an important part of Bolsonaro’s presidential campaign in 2018, and he may return to it as he gears up for his re-election campaign ahead of the October 2022 general election; public security officers, notably members of the military police, form part of his support base.

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