Demand investigation in killing of Rio councilwoman

Amnesty International is calling for a full investigation into the killing of Rio de Janeiro councilwoman Marielle Franco. A human rights defender known for her outspokenness against police brutality, Franco, 38, was shot dead in an ambush on her vehicle March 14, in what appears to be a targeted assassination. Amnesty's Brazil director, Jurema Werneck, cited the shooting as "yet another example of the dangers that human rights defenders face in Brazil," and stated that the "Brazilian authorities must ensure a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into this tragic killing."

Franco's death came just weeks after she was appointed rapporteur for a special commission the city council created to monitor the government's use of the military to take control of all public security through the end of the year in Rio. An expert on police violence, Franco was critical of authorities and their handling of killings related to the crackdown on drug gangs. Many have pointed to her denunciation of the police as a possible motive for her murder.

In addition to being an activist against police violence, Franco was also known for her social work and for fighting for the rights of Black women and youth as well as other marginalized communities. She won the fifth highest vote count when she was elected in 2016 and was in her first term in office.

From Jurist, March 16. Used with permission.

Note: Thousands-strong protests have been held since the slaying of Franco, who served with the Socialism & Freedom Party (PSOL)  An openly gay Black woman, she was elected in 2016 after years of doing social work in Rio's favelas.

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