Rio's torture prevention body reports on abuse during the World Cup

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The organisation of the FIFA World Cup and other major events led to arbitrary arrests, torture and ill-treatment and worsening conditions in places of detention. This is the conclusion in a thematic report of the Local Preventive Mechanism of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The Local Preventive Mechanism (LPM) of Rio de Janeiro has published an alarming report on the violent response to the public protests in relation to the World Cup and other major events in recent years. A main objective is to prevent a similar situation in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics, which will also take place in Rio.

Following the announcement that Brazil had been selected to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014, the number of arrests increased in Rio. The Local Preventive Mechanism started conducting monitoring visits to the places where the demonstrators were held, focusing on the very initial stages of detention in police stations or pre-trial centres. Most of the protestors were deprived of their liberty for a shorter period, although some of those detained during the World Cup are still locked up. The LPM also paid special attention to adolescent detention centres.

During its detention visits, the monitors received reports of arbitrary arrests, torture and ill-treatment and observed appalling conditions of detention. In the past three years, the number of detainees has increased three times faster in Rio de Janeiro than in the rest of the country. The high number of arrests of demonstrators further worsened the overcrowding in places of detention.

"Policy of repression"

The LPM-report highlights the disproportionate use of force against protesters, by the police and the military (which, for the World Cup, was authorised under a specific legislative exception). It also describes the violent, forced eviction of poor families, homeless persons and drug users from touristic areas. This “social cleansing” of the city centre included children and adolescents, of which several were brought to shelters far from the city centre. The Local Preventive Mechanism denounces what it calls “a policy of repression aimed specifically at people of African descent, the young and the poor”.

The report includes a set of concrete recommendations, focusing on ensuring basic safeguards for those deprived of their liberty, such as access to a lawyer, that relatives are informed of where they are detained and when they are transferred and that cameras be installed in police cars. The LPM further recommends not to involve the armed forces in maintaining public order.

In this video interview, Fábio Simas describes how the Local Preventive Mechanism of Rio de Janeiro responded during the preparations for the World Cup in Brazil.