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Rio | Demilitarization Debate

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Source O Globo.

Demand for demilitarization gains momentum

As protests continue, specialists propose merger of the military and state judicial police

RIO – A demand heard from protesters all over Brazil, the demilitarization of the police has gained momentum in Rio and is the principal demand of various groups.

According to a report published July 2 in O GLOBO, the action by BOPE — the military police special ops battalion — in the Maré Complex, during which 10 persons died, has heated up the debate.

State minister of human rights Maria do Rosário is proposing police reform.

State public safety secretary Beltrame is not exactly welcoming the proposal with open arms, but that is a story for another time. Let this statement by a PM and former SSP of the Federal District speak for itself.

The colonel says he believes that “today’s military police office knows who has rights and who has responsibilities. On the street, he has to make judgment calls,” he adds.

This is not a comforting thought. Police here talk about defending pessoas do bem from pessoas do mal … I am used to thinking that this is the role of the magistrate.

Experts believe that even before the required constitutional amendment is held, it is possible to make changes, with the creation of an integrated police academy and human rights training.

Prof.  Ignácio Cano, of the Violence Analysis Laboratory  at the Rio de Janeiro state university, calls for a merger of the two police forces, state judicial and military, preserving what is valuable in each.

— The ideal would be a new state judicial police that integrates the two forces, preserving the positive elements of each,” said Cano.

Cano is among those who defend a single, integrated police academy, citing the state of Ceará as an example.

This extensive lecture is helpful reading on the Ceará reform movement.

The SSP — public safety secretariat — is setting goals to encourage the two forces to work together. Cano suggests establishing a shared database and a shared system of radio communication.

UFF professor of criminal law and criminology Daniel Andrés Raizman explains that a constitutional amendment to demilitarize the police could be ready in the next two months, but believes that other steps must be taken first.

— Demilitarization would be a good option, because the less violence, the better. There are short-term solutions to reduce violence, however,such as the use of helmet cameras by the Shock Troop and the expansion of training, including human rights training.

A phased demilitarization, designed to overcome the resistance of police to the measure. This is the solution defended by criminologist Elizabeth Süssekind, of the Brazilian Public Safety Forum  Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública.

In her view, the police  themselves lack a clear notion of their role and mission. Elizabeth recalls how, during the Maré incident. Rio SSP José Mariano Beltrame, stated that  “the state was attacked, and fought back.”

— It was not the State that was attacked. There is a faction in the police who have come to assume that their mission is to defend the state or the government. That is not accurate. They are there to protect the citizen and his or her rights. They are agencies the population relies on to preserve their rights to work, to receive health care, to come and go, to enjoy freedom of expression …

Gabriel Siqueira, 24, of the Forum Against the Hike in Fares — Fórum Contra o Aumento das Passagens, explains the importance of this demand:

— This is a bill we have had to pay since the days of the dictatorship. The PM still operate in Army boots, and are ruled by the dynamic of barracks life. It is an outmoded system..

National and International Repercussions

The EBC — official press agency of the Brazilian government — ran an informational piece on the topic in recent days.

With the protests that took to the strets since June and the violent episodes connected with the military police registered on several occasions, the demilitarization of state police has acquired new significance on the public agenda. In May 2012, Denmark went so far as to recommend, during a UN human rights event, that Brazil do away with the military police. This idea was rejected universally as unconstitutional, and doubts remain as to what in fact a demilitarization of the police would mean.

Constitutional Amendments

Currently, two constitutional amendment (PECs) are circulating through the national congress in defense of police demilitarization. PEc 102, of 2011, authored by Senator Blairo Maggi (PR/MT), authorizes states to demilitarize their military police and unify their police forces. “The proposal does not specifically impose unification and demilitarization, but rather leaves it up each state in the federation to do so as it sees fit,” Vianna said. This  PEC is making its way through the Senate.

Meanwhile, PEC 430, of 2009, which is circulating through the Câmara dos Deputados, envisions the unification of the Civil and Military Police and the demilitarization of the Fire Brigade in the states and in the federal district, as well as assigning new duties to municipal guards.  The proposal was made by Celso Russomanno (PP-SP).