Weapons from Germany and Switzerland are used in police violence in Brazil

New terre des hommes study reveals serious child rights violations

June 1, 2021, Basel / Osnabrück – According to a new study by the child and human rights organizations terre des hommes Germany and Switzerland in cooperation with the Instituto Sou da Paz (Brazil), police violence in Brazil has reached dramatic scale. Many of the victims are children and young people from poorer neighborhoods, especially black boys and young men. The study uses case studies and the analysis of partly unpublished data to prove that the firearms, armored vehicles and helicopters used by the police and military are often of German or Swiss manufacture. Because of the war-like conditions in certain neighborhoods and the serious human rights violations, terre des hommes demands that governments and companies immediately stop the export of all military equipment to Brazil.

“Deaths from police violence in Brazil have been on the rise since 2013, reaching 6,375 in 2019, a quarter of whom were under 19 years old and thus mostly still children. That means four children and young people under 19 die every day in Brazil at the hands of the police and military,” says Ralf Willinger, child rights expert at terre des hommes Germany. “Many of the guns, rifles, armored vehicles and helicopters used come from Germany and Switzerland. This is no longer acceptable. Arms exports to Brazil must be stopped completely immediately – as EU law requires for countries with serious human rights violations and armed conflicts.”

“The study proves that Brazil is unwilling or unable to control its state arms stockpiles. Embezzlement is occurring, and large numbers of weapons and ammunition are disappearing, including many of European origin”, explains Andrea Zellhuber of terre des hommes Switzerland. “Many of these weapons and ammunition are then used for crimes and massacres. Impunity for violent crimes is already very high in Brazil in general, and extremely high for acts of violence by the police and military.”

Employees and participants of terre des hommes projects are also at risk: “Children and young people from our projects in São Paulo and the northeast of Brazil are afraid of the police. Many are mistreated or killed by the police, often just because of their age, their place of residence or the color of their skin “, says Bruna Leite, country coordinator of terre des hommes in Brazil. “Some have to leave their neighborhoods because they are threatened and are no longer safe. We call on governments and authorities in Germany and Switzerland to raise these abuses with Brazilian government agencies and push for a stop of human rights abuses.”

The study “Hört auf uns zu töten! Polizeigewalt gegen Kinder und Jugendliche in Brasilien und Waffenhandel“ (Stop Killing Us! Police violence against children and youth in Brazil and arms trafficking) is available for download in German and soon also in Portuguese. It will also be available as a print copy free of charge at terre des hommes Switzerland and terre des hommes Germany.

terre des hommes Germany and terre des hommes Switzerland 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, child protection, participation and education.

More information (in German) and Download of study:

www.tdh.de/polizeigewalt (terre des hommes Germany)

https://terredeshommesschweiz.ch/waffenexport-studie-21  (terre des hommes Switzerland)