BBC covers WITNESS Strategy to Document Police Brutality in Brazil

WITNESS, in coordination with local Brazilian organizations, is supporting Brazilians who are marginalized or worse: repressed, beaten, or killed in the systemic police violence that has been escalating in the lead-up to the World Cup.

Together with rights groups such as our long-term partner Conectas, WITNESS has launched an online system that allows anyone who documents police violence with video to share it.

As Priscila Neri, WITNESS Senior Program Manager, explains to BBC Brazil:

The idea is to monitor citizen video and think about strategic uses for these videos… Until now, the use of images has been reactive. If someone is arrested or charged for something they did not do, lawyers seek to mobilize pictures and videos that prove otherwise. We need a proactive strategy in the accountability process where we not only act in defense but also in indictment.

Over on the WITNESS Blog, Priscila explains how all this works. She also explains how creating a catalog of videos that document abuse can help improve the human rights situation in Brazil.

[It’s important] to connect these videos to each other in order to illustrate the pattern of violations and counter the allegation that any abuse is an isolated incident perpetrated by “bad apples”.

To address this challenge, WITNESS and partners are launching a collaborative database that will use Google Forms to monitor, catalogue, organize and systematize videos and photos of police violence during the World Cup protests as they unfold.  By inviting activists, protestors and journalists to use the Google Form to submit their images of police violence, the database will help connect those dots while collecting precious information to fuel advocacy and legal efforts in the months to come.

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). 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.

Visit The BBC for the complete article (in Portuguese): #SalaSocial: Banco de dados digital cataloga vídeos de violência policial em protestos.

Visit the WITNESS Blog for Priscila’s article outlining this strategy: Call for Videos on Police Violence During World Cup Protests.


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