Rule of Law Under Attack in Rio de Janeiro

Judge Patricia Acioli

Judge Patricia Acioli

Militia groups in Rio de Janeiro are gaining ground, while one of the state’s most effective enforcers of rule of law is now dead.

On Thursday, August 11, 2011 Judge Patrícia Acioli was in her car outside of her house in Níteroi, across the bay from Rio de Janeiro, when hooded gunmen approached her in several vehicles and shot her at close range 21 times.

Judge Acioli had been “marked for death”.  She, along with 12 other judges and prosecutors, had received threats from former police officers and criminal gangs who were threatened by her effort to uphold the law.  The judge had previously convicted several former police officers with charges of corruption.

In a country where impunity is rampant, Acioli was known as a tough judge who did not back down from investigating cases of police involvement in death squads, militias and drug gangs operating in Rio de Janeiro’s metropolitan region. Over the past decade she had sentenced around 60 police officers involved in death squads and militia groups. The death of Judge Patrícia Acioli, who was killed for upholding the rule of law and bringing criminals to justice, has dealt a blow to the judicial system in Brazil.

Militia groups control poor communities with violence, whilst extorting money for the provision of security, as well as gas, transport, cable TV and other services, in Rio de Janeiro. The spread of the milicias across favelas in Rio de Janeiro was initially trumpeted as an important and valiant challenge to the longstanding domination of drug factions and the apparent failure of military style police incursions mounted by the state. The growth of the milicia groups can be attributed to decades of public security policy based on negligence, human rights violations and impunity of perpetrators, allowing criminal and corrupt police officers to thrive at the cost of those working tirelessly to serve the community.

Judge Acioli’s murder illustrates Rio de Janeiro’s problems with police corruption and organized crime. In late 2008, Rio de Janeiro’s state Parliament led an inquiry aimed at combating the militia groups. Despite more than 500 arrests of militia members and high profile trials of corrupt police officers since then, little has been done to tackle the illegal economic activities that fuel these groups.

The killing of Judge Acioli must be thoroughly and independently investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice. Furthermore, in order to prevent an escalation in criminal gangs and activity, the recommendations of the 2008 Parliamentary Inquiry into the militias, which Acioli herself supported, should be fully implemented. This includes clamping down on the black economy that sustains and entrenches police corruption and organized crime, which affect the lives of thousands of people in Brazil.

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14 thoughts on “Rule of Law Under Attack in Rio de Janeiro

  1. INSTEAD OF ARRESTING THEM JUST SHOOT THEM, SIMPLE. U KNOW THE ARE QUILTY. AND SEND THE ARMY IN TO CLEAN UP THOSE PARTS OF RIO BEING ABUSED.

  2. Isn't Amnesty calling for any type of action toward the US and the Brazilian governments?

  3. The death of Patricia Acioli has provoked in Brazil a national commotion because she was a judge. And in Brazil a judge is a kind of "god", untouchable.
    Meanwhile thousands and thousand of Young black people have been dead by extermination groups and bad police every year. And nobody of these criminal elements go to the jail. There is a great genocide of black people and the Amnesty International must alert the world about that. Thanks a lot.ç

  4. By the way of death of Patricia Acioli, a Brazilian jude, by militias groups it's extremely important remember every year thousands and thousands of black young people have been killed by militias groups and bad members of police.

  5. INSTEAD OF ARRESTING THEM JUST SHOOT THEM, SIMPLE. U KNOW THE ARE QUILTY. AND SEND THE ARMY IN TO CLEAN UP THOSE PARTS OF RIO BEING ABUSED.

  6. Isn’t Amnesty calling for any type of action toward the US and the Brazilian governments?

  7. The level of corruption in Brazil is unacceptable. We must do something to turn things around… Thank you, Mr Ciampolini and Amnesty, for exposing the truth.

  8. The death of Patricia Acioli has provoked in Brazil a national commotion because she was a judge. And in Brazil a judge is a kind of “god”, untouchable.
    Meanwhile thousands and thousand of Young black people have been dead by extermination groups and bad police every year. And nobody of these criminal elements go to the jail. There is a great genocide of black people and the Amnesty International must alert the world about that. Thanks a lot.ç

  9. By the way of death of Patricia Acioli, a Brazilian jude, by militias groups it’s extremely important remember every year thousands and thousands of black young people have been killed by militias groups and bad members of police.

  10. The level of corruption in Brazil is unacceptable. We must do something to turn things around… Thank you, Mr Ciampolini and Amnesty, for exposing the truth.

  11. do not support amnesty! bc if you do you are a racist hypocrite. amnesty is a tool of western oppression of rest of the world.
    while it is quick to accuse non west, not obedient to west, of violations human rights and crimes against humanity, even on no or flimsy evidence, it is yet to accuse usa and rest of its cronies of same even with very solid evidence.
    how many more children have to die by the hands of brutal military forces of west acting under obama's orders before amnesty call him a war criminal ? (over 160 children have died from american drone attacks in pakistan upto now. google to find substantiated facts and pics on this. hundreds and thousands more children and innocent adults were killed in iraq,libya, and afghanistan, to mention only the current overt acts of western aggression).
    why is bush not in front of a court?
    as long as amnesty fails to do so, it is guilty of racist hypocrisy . don't support this racist hypocritical , tool of western oppression.

    -
    like all hypocrites, amnesty cannot stand truth and freedom of expression, and has censored similar comments several times here.

  12. do not support amnesty! bc if you do you are a racist hypocrite. amnesty is a tool of western oppression of rest of the world.
    while it is quick to accuse non west, not obedient to west, of violations human rights and crimes against humanity, even on no or flimsy evidence, it is yet to accuse usa and rest of its cronies of same even with very solid evidence.
    how many more children have to die by the hands of brutal military forces of west acting under obama’s orders before amnesty call him a war criminal ? (over 160 children have died from american drone attacks in pakistan upto now. google to find substantiated facts and pics on this. hundreds and thousands more children and innocent adults were killed in iraq,libya, and afghanistan, to mention only the current overt acts of western aggression).
    why is bush not in front of a court?
    as long as amnesty fails to do so, it is guilty of racist hypocrisy . don’t support this racist hypocritical , tool of western oppression.

    -
    like all hypocrites, amnesty cannot stand truth and freedom of expression, and has censored similar comments several times here.

  13. What !!

    Sittingnut's here too … & the excellent comments about the alleged mass killings of young blacks posted here have been censored by him !!

    He' s gone to the Rick Perry & Kashmir issues on this site & disappeared the critical voices ( those not agreeable to his politics ) there as well.

    Interesting he's left Richard's comment untouched … Richard calls for the Army being given a free hand !!

    Those critical here about the corrupt police have been silenced by him .

    If you're wondering, Sittingnut's proSri Lanka … & in Sri Lanka the Army & police run unchecked, while the state disappears all critical voices .

  14. What !!

    Sittingnut’s here too … & the excellent comments about the alleged mass killings of young blacks posted here have been censored by him !!

    He’ s gone to the Rick Perry & Kashmir issues on this site & disappeared the critical voices ( those not agreeable to his politics ) there as well.

    Interesting he’s left Richard’s comment untouched … Richard calls for the Army being given a free hand !!

    Those critical here about the corrupt police have been silenced by him .

    If you’re wondering, Sittingnut’s proSri Lanka … & in Sri Lanka the Army & police run unchecked, while the state disappears all critical voices .