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Brazil: The endless wait for justice

Brazil: The endless wait for justice

The trial of the four military police officers accused of murdering Josenildo João de Freitas Junior in Caruaru in 1999, which was set to be heard in Recife on 16 November, has been postponed for the second time.

Amnesty International is concerned that these delays are causing undue distress to Dr. Elma Novais, Josenildo’s mother, who has received death threats in the past as a result of her efforts to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.

The organisation calls on the authorities to ensure that no further unjustified delays interfere with the right of Dr Novais to seek redress for the death of her son.

Background Information Four police officers were arrested and charged with the murder of Josenildo João de Freitas Júnior in December 2001, after a national TV program broadcast an exposé on corrupt police in Caruaru, which linked the four police officers with "death squad" activity and organised crime in the state.

Dr. Novais’ struggle to bring the accused to court has come at great personal cost. She and her children have suffered threats, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and physical attacks. Though her campaign has engendered considerable national and international support, her family’s situation continues to be of extreme concern. Following the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights’ call for precautionary measures in this case, Dr Novais was provided with protection by members of the Federal Police. Nevertheless only limited protection was provided for her children.

The Pernambuco state authorities have recently admitted the existence of "death squads", and have begun investigations into 62 other killings believed to be the result of "death squad" activity in the state. Dr Novais’ courage in refusing to give into threats and intimidation, and the continued legal pressure that she has applied have been pivotal in achieving this. She has recently received two awards for her work as a lawyer.

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