Brazil Police

WITNESS Meets with Lawyers, Video Activists and Human Rights Defenders in Brazil

For the past two decades, WITNESS has proven that activist videos can open the eyes of the world to human rights abuses. In Brazil — where police violence is rampant — we are currently launching a (minimum) one-year intensive Critical Response program to support human rights activists, lawyers, citizen journalists and community leaders to use video to strengthen the call for accountability and justice. Our goal is to empower allies on all sides of the camera, from the streets to the courts, to use video safely and effectively to end police violence.

The work is overseen by WITNESS’ Senior Program Manager, Priscila Neri, a native of Brazil, and is supported by a local consultant, video activist Victor Ribeiro, who will lead the efforts on the ground.

In May, Priscila and Sam Gregory, WITNESS Program Director, visited core allies and networks to:

  • Integrate video documentation trainings into their respective projects;
  • Create or revise new Video as Evidence materials specific to the Brazilian context in collaboration with WITNESS and partners;
  • Share relevant WITNESS training material with collectives and networks that are joining forces to support World Cup protests;
  • Conduct basic training on video documentation principles, informed consent, ethics and video as evidence for members of a community journalist network in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Organized a Video for Change (V4C) convening with a focus on video as evidence basic principles and the potential uses of Informacam/Obscuracam, mobile applications WITNESS has created with our partners at the Guardian Project.

Police violence in Brazil has reached epidemic proportions. It is estimated that police kill more than 10,000 people each year across the country (in comparison, 2,959 civilians were killed in the conflict in Afghanistan in 2013), and a shocking number of these murders are extrajudicial. In June 2013, protests erupted across the country, sparked by forced evictions ahead of the World Cup and fed by long-running social injustices like police brutality. While poor communities and urban favelas have suffered at the hands of police and drug factions for decades, the brutal police response to these protests drew worldwide attention — in part, thanks to an outpouring of citizen video showing the abuses in real time.

More information about our activities in Brazil can be viewed at the WITNESS Blog.

Image: Brazilian police during a protest, by Gabriel Cabral.