Luciana dos Santos cries at the scene where the body of her husband, Evaldo dos Santos Rosa, lies slumped over in a car that was shot at by members of the armed forces, in the Guadalupe neighborhood, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, April 7, 2019. The Eastern Military Command initially said two “criminals” inside the car had opened fire against the army soldiers, who shot back. On April 8, 2019, the Eastern Military Command admitted “inconsistencies” between the facts reported by the army personnel and other information about the incident, and ordered the pretrial detention of 10 soldiers.

© AP Photos / Fabio Teixeira

 

The incident in which army soldiers opened fire against a car in Rio de Janeiro on April 7, killing Evaldo Rosa dos Santos and injuring two other people, requires an impartial and rigorous investigation. Civil Police chief investigator Leonardo Salgado told Brazilian press that an unarmed “normal family” was travelling in the car. But unfortunately, under current law neither Leonardo Salgado nor any authority in the civil justice system who is independent from the Armed Forces will have the power to investigate or try the case. A 2017 law made the armed forces themselves responsible for investigations of homicides committed by their own personnel, if the killings occur when they are deployed in public security operations or to ensure the security of military facilities. Any trial would be held before a court panel made up of four military officers and one civilian judge. According to international standards, extrajudicial executions and other serious human rights violations committed by military personnel must be investigated by civil authorities and tried in civilian courts. This case shows, once again, the need to repeal the 2017 law.