Human Rights Watch

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Brazil: Military Police Muzzled

Laws Used to Suppress Calls for Police Reform

Thursday 09 March 2017

(São Paulo, March 9, 2017) – Brazilian authorities should reform laws that have been used to impose disproportionate punishments on military police officers who speak out publicly to advocate reform or voice complaints, Human Rights Watch said today.

“A country with close to 60,000 killings a year urgently needs to consider new approaches to public security,” said Maria Laura Canineu, Brazil director at Human Rights Watch. “Those who fight crime every day on the streets have an invaluable perspective on security policy and police reform; and should be able to express their views without fear of being punished arbitrarily.”

Brazil’s 436,000 military police officers patrol the country’s streets, a purely civilian task, but are subject to military law because they are technically considered to be auxiliary forces of the Army. Brazil’s military criminal code and various state disciplinary codes include broad restrictions on the officers’ free speech rights.

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