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Monica Benicio requests UN support to move forward with investigations into the assassination of Marielle

Document delivered by the organization Terra de Direitos highlights the importance of international pressure to solve this crime.

Foto Mídia Ninja

Councilwoman and widow of Marielle Franco, Monica Benicio, requested support from the international community on Thursday (30) for progress in the investigations of the people behind the assassination of the councilwoman and human rights defender, killed on March 14, 2018. In a document addressed to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, Monica asks the Office of the High Commissioner to send a formal request to the Brazilian State inquiring about the work of different bodies in the elucidation of the case. The document was delivered by the organization Terra de Direitos to the Brazilian focal point at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Nathalie Migeotte. Terra de Direitos is providing legal assistance to the councilwoman in the investigation of the crime. 

The request for support occurs in the context of the 52nd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, which takes place in Geneva until April 4, after five years since the assassination of Marielle Franco, a crime that also victimized her driver Anderson Gomes. Five years later, the crime continues without elucidation and accountability of those involved and the investigations are marked by changes in command, obstructions, leaking of information and impediment of access and monitoring of investigations by family members

In the document addressed to the High Commissioner, Benicio highlights that “in addition to the Brazilian State itself, the internal bodies of our justice system also need to understand that there is a deep international demand for this crime to be solved.” She requests that reference be made to the assassination of Marielle Franco and the duty to elucidate it in a future statement by the High Commissioner.  

In the document, the councilwoman highlights the “pilgrimage” through the different public bodies and state agencies in search of justice since the occurrence of the crime. Last year the group met with the Governor of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Claudio Castro, and the then Civil Police Chief of the state, Allan Turnowski, who was appointed by the governor as a trusted man and a public agent committed to solving the case. However, months later, Allan Turnowski was arrested for involvement in contravention, corruption, and “gambling” ["jogo do bicho"] (an illegal betting scheme historically associated with other criminal activities) and connections with another police officer arrested for negotiating bribes to interfere in investigations.

“It is hard to believe that there is any commitment on the part of the Rio de Janeiro State Government, the Governor or his security forces, or that there is any political will to answer the question that haunts me every day: ‘Who ordered the killing of Marielle, and why?’ The Brazilian State owes these answers not only to me, but to all the family members of Marielle and Anderson, to all the Brazilian people, to the international community”, Benício emphasizes in the document.  

On March 14 of this year, Benício, Marielle Franco’s family and organizations that make up the Collective ‘Justice for Marielle and Anderson’, including Terra de Direitos, met again with representatives of the Public Prosecutor's Office of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Federal Police Superintendent’s Office, and the State Government of Rio de Janeiro. So far only retired military police officer Ronnie Lessa, accused of shooting at Marielle and Anderson, and former military police officer Élcio Queiroz, possibly the driver of the car used in the crime, are in jail and awaiting trial.  

In February of this year, Justice Minister Flávio Dino ordered an inquiry to be made by the Federal Police to investigate the execution of Marielle and Anderson, jointly with the authorities of the State of Rio de Janeiro.  According to the document, the appointment of Marielle’s sister, Anielle Franco, as Minister of Racial Equality is also a sign of the government’s commitment to shed light on the case and hold those involved accountable. “This crime, this barbaric execution, was a grave violation of Human Rights and an attack on Brazilian Democracy, as well as having become a clear message of what has become the power of the militia in Rio de Janeiro. It is also an attack on everything Marielle was, what she fought for and stood for”, Benício highlights. 

“The execution of councilwoman Marielle on March 14, 2018 is a milestone in the process of intensifying political violence and violence against human rights defenders in Brazil, and recording these facts, as well as the quest for accountability in this case, is central to the human rights agenda of our country. The assassination of Marielle is also important on the global human rights agenda and, for this reason, it has been the object of attention and monitoring in different areas of the United Nations”, said Camila Gomes, the Terra de Direitos legal advisor who delivered the document to the OHCHR.

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