Brazil: Killing of councillor and activist Ms. Marielle Franco

Urgent Appeal

BRA 001 / 0318 / OBS 031
March 16, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Brazil.

Brief description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Justicia Global about the killing of councillor and activist Ms. Marielle Franco. Well-known for her social work, Ms. Franco was elected to the city council of Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and presided over the women’s commission. In her capacity, Ms. Franco has spoken against police brutality and grinding poverty as well as in support of victims of shoot-outs with drug gangs in the favelas. In February 2018, she was chosen to be a rapporteur of the commission overseeing the deployment of federal security forces in Rio’s favelas. Ms. Franco was an outspoken critic of the decision of Brazilian President Michel Temer to deploy the army in poor neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro after a spike in violent crimes during carnival and in order to contain the escalating violence since the 2016 Olympic Games.

According to the information received, on March 14, 2018 evening, Ms. Franco and her driver, Mr. Anderson Pedro Gomes, were shot dead by two unidentified attackers on a downtown street in Rio de Janeiro, as they were returning from an event encouraging black women’s empowerment in Brazil. Initial findings indicate that a car pulled up alongside hers and that thirteen shots were fired from inside the car into the vehicle carrying the councillor and her driver. A press officer seated in the back of the car was injured.

The Observatory believes that Ms. Franco was targeted as a result of her continued engagement against police violence. Specifically, on March 10, 2018, she denounced the heavy-handed tactics of police officers when searching residents of gang-controlled slums. On March 13, 2018, she tweeted about the killing of Mr. Matheus Melo, a 23-year-old man in the Jacarezinho favela whose family had blamed the military police for the killing. She said “One more homicide of a young man who may be coming in for the PM’s account... How many more will have to die for this war to end?” She later added “We must speak loudly so that everybody knows what is happening in Acari right now. The 41st Military Police Battalion of Rio de Janeiro is terrorizing and violating Acari residents. This week two youths were killed and tossed in a ditch. Today, the police walked the streets threatening residents. This has always happened and with the military intervention things have gotten worse”.

Rio’s head of public security, Richard Nunes, said there would be a “full investigation” into the killing of Ms. Franco and her driver. Brazil’s public security minister, Raul Jungmann, said federal police would help investigate her killing.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the murder of Ms. Marielle Franco which seems to be only aimed at punishing her human rights activities. It urges the authorities to adopt measures to ensure the effective protection of human rights defenders in Brazil, and to conduct an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the assassination of Ms. Marielle Franco in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Brazil, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders in Brazil;

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the assassination of Ms. Marielle Franco in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1 and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Brazil.


• H.E. Mr. Michel Temer, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Email:,, Twitter: @MichelTemer
• Mr. Torquato Jardim, Minister of Justice, Email:,, Twitter: @JusticaGovBR
• Mr. Raul Jungmann, Minister of Public Security, Email:
• Mr. Gustavo do Vale Rocha, State Ministry for Human Rights, Email:;,, Twitter: @DHumanosBrasil
• H.E. Ms. Maria Nazareth Farani Azevêdo, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 910 07 51, Email:
• H.E. Mr. Antonio José Vallim Guerreiro, Ambassador of Brazil in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 640 81 34, Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Brazil in your respective country.

Paris-Geneva, March 16, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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