31 May 2021

Police violence in Brazil "devastating" - Stop Swiss arms exports

1MB Military Maneuvers In Rocinha District In Rio Photo Bruno Itan PD Tdh Switzerland
1MB Military Maneuvers In Rocinha District In Rio Photo Bruno Itan PD Tdh Switzerland

Media Release Weapons from Germany and Switzerland are used in police operations in Brazil. This often results in se-rious human rights violations against children and young people. An independent study by terre des hommes schweiz and terre des hommes Deutschland investigates seven exemplary cases of lethal gun violence and uncovers serious deficiencies in the control of state weapons stocks in Brazil. Together with the Brazilian Instituto Sou da Paz, the two terre des hommes organizations demand an immediate stop to the export of war material to Brazil.

. The study was prepared in cooperation with the Instituto Sou da Paz in Brazil. It contains recommendations for action for business and politics. terre des hommes Deutschland. The study was prepared in cooperation with the Instituto Sou da Paz in Brazil and contains recommendations for action for business and politics.

Many of the victims are children and young people from favelas, urban slums. "Most of them are male, black and poor," says Andrea Zellhuber, an expert on violence prevention, an for peace culture at terre des hommes schweiz, at the online media conference on June 1, 2021. The Study , presently available in German, proves the point based on seven case studies and the evaluation of data, some of which is unpublished: The pistols, rifles, armored vehicles and helicopters used in police and military actions in Brazil are often of German or Swiss provenance.

The number of deaths from gun violence by security forces in Brazil has been steadily increasing since 2013. A quarter of those killed in 2019 were under the age of 19. "Every day in Brazil, four children and young people die at the hands of the police," says Andrea Zellhuber.

"As required by the corrective initiative"

terre des hommes schweiz and terre des hommes Deutschland are calling for an immediate halt to the export of all arms to Brazil in light of the war-like conditions in certain neighborhoods and the serious human rights violations.

"Arms exports to Brazil must be completely stopped immediately — as EU law requires for countries with seri-ous human rights violations and armed conflicts," says Ralf Willinger, child rights expert at terre des hommes Deutschland."Switzerland continues to export arms to Brazil, even though the human rights situation there is dire," says An-drea Zellhuber of terre des hommes schweiz.

Swiss arms companies delivered war material worth more than 30 million Swiss francs to Brazil last year. This ranks the South American country as the 8th recipient country of Swiss arms exports. "The example of Brazil clearly shows: there is an urgent need for stricter rules on war material exports, as demanded by the Korrektur-Initiative," says Andrea Zellhuber of terre des hommes schweiz.

terre des hommes schweiz is a member of the Allianz gegen Waffenexporte in Bürgerkriegsländer, which launched the Korrektur-Initiative . The issue is expected to be discussed in parliament on June 3.

Inadequate control of state arms stockpiles in Brazil

"The study proves that Brazil is unwilling or unable to control its state arms stockpiles. Embezzlement is occur-ring, and a large number of weapons and ammunition are disappearing from official stocks, including many European makes," explains Andrea Zellhuber of terre des hommes schweiz. "Many of these weapons and am-munition are then used for crimes and massacres." Impunity for violent crime is already generally very high in Brazil, she says: "It's extremely high for acts of violence by the police and military."

Andrea Zellhuber of terre des hommes schweiz says, "We call on governments and authorities in Germany and Switzerland to raise these abuses with Brazilian state authorities and to press for a stop to human rights abuses."

"Children and young people from our projects are afraid"

Employees and contributors in terre des hommes projects in Brazil are also at risk. "Children and young people from our projects in São Paulo and in the northeast of Brazil are afraid of the police. Again and again, they are mistreated or killed by the security forces, often just because of their age, place of residence or skin color," says Bruna Leite, terre des hommes country coordinator in Brazil. "Some have to leave their living quarters because they are threatened and are no longer safe."

About us

terre des hommes switzerland, together with Terre des hommes Switzerland, and terre des hommes Deutschland together support 18 projects for children and young people and their families in Brazil. The main focus of the project and campaign work is on the prevention of violence and the promotion of a culture of peace, as well as child protection, participation and education.

terre des hommes schweiz strengthens young people in Africa, Latin America and Switzerland. Together with them, we fight poverty, violence and discrimination and advocate for the rights of children and young people and just North-South relations.

Links to Content in German

Study "Stop Killing Us! - Police violence against children and young people and the arms trade":
Campaign against gun violence in Brazil and arms trafficking: https://www.terredeshommesschweiz.ch/waffen


Andrea Zellhuber, responsible for violence prevention
Franziska Lauper, Managing Director terre des hommes switzerland
Media contact: anna.wegelin@terredeshommes.ch

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