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Cablegate: U.S.-Brazil Project On Racial Profiling by the Police --


DE RUEHBR #1472/01 3501441
R 161440Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: U.S.-Brazil Project on Racial Profiling by the Police --
Visit of U.S. Technical Experts


1. . Summary: In meetings in Brasilia December 2-4, three U.S. technical experts, together with representatives of the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, Ministry of External Relations, Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR) and Police Academy of the State of Santa Catarina, planned next steps in a pilot project to combat racial profiling by police in the states of Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Over the next two months, the U.S. experts will collect U.S. police training materials to be translated by the Embassy and provided to Brazilian counterparts. The American experts will return to Brazil in late March 2010 to discuss and test the materials, both for content and methodology for use with students, in workshops with police academy instructors gathered in the city of Florianopolis. The final product of the project is to be a "toolkit" of manuals, bibliographies, DVDs, PowerPoint presentations and laptops that can be used to train police recruits in Brazil's southern states. (Note: The project currently is unfunded and can be completed only if funding is found - see paragraph 17.) End summary.

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Police impunity

2. According to numerous studies of policing in Brazil, including a recent report of Human Rights Watch entitled "Lethal Force," a 2008 Report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, and annual U.S. State Department Human Rights Reports, police throughout the country routinely commit unlawful executions that are almost never punished. The racial element of such police behavior (while the police are both black and white, the victims are overwhelmingly black) is seldom discussed in part because of a paucity of data, the complexity of the subject, and widespread denial on the part of white Brazilians that racism exists.

3. However, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), in its Human Development Report on Racism, Poverty and Violence - Brazil 2005, documents differential treatment of blacks and whites by the police. According to the report, the proportion of blacks who are victims of police violence is three times that of whites in the State of Rio de Janeiro. The report states: "The probability of blacks dying in clashes with the police is much higher in the slums, where police killings are higher, but the difference between whites and blacks is also disproportional in other urban areas." Moreover, blacks are more likely to be stopped by the police, to be searched, to be arrested and to be forced to pay a bribe. Unlike white Brazilians, blacks, according to various public opinion surveys carried out between 1995 and 1997, fear the police more than they fear common criminals.

A need for training

4. Against this background, the Special Secretariat for the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR), an office of the Brazilian presidency, held its Second National Congress for the Promotion of Racial Equality (CONAPIR) in June 2009 with about 1,500 participants. Several of the resolutions to come out of that conference concerned security and justice, including the following:
-- "Promote the inclusion of the ethnic-racial theme in professional training courses in the areas of health, security and justice."
-- "Stimulate training of agents of Civil Defense, Military Police, Civil Police, Municipal Guards, Firefighting Corps, Ambulance Service and others to give effect to human rights and combat institutional racism."
-- "Require training of Military and Civil Police, as well as Municipal Guards, for respectful treatment during police stops related to Afro-Brazilian religious groups."

A proposal

5. During preparations for the Third Meeting of the Steering Group of the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality, SEPPIR, the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations (MRE) and Ministry of Justice proposed to the USG a joint project to combat racial stereotyping and profiling by the Brazilian police (ref A). In ensuing discussions involving the Embassy's Resident Legal Adviser (RLA) (Note: The RLA program has since been shut due to a lack of USG funding. End note.) and poloff, the GOB and USG narrowed the focus to a pilot project in Brazil's three southernmost states - Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul - chosen largely because of the presence in Santa Catarina of an enlightened and progressive chief of training civil police, Andre Luis Mendes da Silveira.

6. On the margins of the Third Meeting of the Joint Action Plan (ref B), the USG agreed to bring U.S. technical experts to Brazil to visit the police and civil society in all three states and to discuss in more detail with the GOB the formulation of a pilot training program.

First steps

7. Accordingly, the following U.S. experts traveled separately to Brazil, using U.S. Speaker funding, between November 29 and December 8:
-- Dr. Tracie L. Keesee, Division Chief of Research, Training and Technology, Denver Police Department.
-- Dr. Philip Atiba Goff, Assistant Professor of Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, and expert on racial bias and discrimination in policing.
-- Dr. Clarence Lusane, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations, American University, and expert in anti-discrimination and criminal justice policies. Keesee traveled to Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul November 29-December 2 where she met with police and civil society groups; Goff did the same in Parana December 5-7. Lusane spent December 1 in Sao Paulo with a variety of NGOs focused on police violence. Keesee and Lusane also met with the Military Police of the Federal District on December 2.

8. From December 2-4, Keesee, Goff, Lusane and poloff met in Brasilia with the following persons to plan next steps in a pilot project of combat racial profiling in southern Brazil:
-- Jorge Luiz de Quadros, Coordinator of Police Activities, National Program of Public Security and Citizenship (PRONASCI), Ministry of Justice.
-- Diogo Machado, SEPPIR.
-- Bruna Vieira de Paula, MRE.
-- Jorge da Silva, commandant of the State of Rio de Janeiro Military Police (retired).
-- Andre Luis Mendes da Silveira and three of his colleagues, State of Santa Catarina Civil Police.

"Racial Democracy"

9. If half of Brazil's population has African blood, as many claim, Brazil has the second largest African-descendant population (after Nigeria) in the world. Jorge da Silva presented a paper noting what he describes as Brazil's "national myth of racial democracy" according to which racism is impossible because of the thoroughness of racial admixture. In light of a national identity that holds "We are all Brazilians of various shades," many white Brazilians are offended when their compatriots claim a black identity. To acknowledge race, some whites believe, is to create divisions in society where none had existed before. Da Silva, who is black, said white Brazilians "look surprised" when they hear that a black man or woman "has experienced racial discrimination and rejection all of his or her life."

10. The tendency of Brazilian society to avoid the race issue, da Silva said, is especially prevalent in the police. Seldom is race recorded in police statistics or even in press reports about police operations. If it appears that people of darker skin are targeted by police, it is denied; such apparent targeting might be explained as a focus on the slums, which are high-crime areas and happen to be predominantly black. When Lusane raised this issue with a military police colonel in the Federal District, the colonel scoffed at the idea that the police discriminate on the basis of race, noting that he, like most of his colleagues, has black ancestry dating back a century or two.

11. Silveira confirmed that there is a deliberate avoidance of discussion of the influence of race in the behavior of police. Yet, he said, it is common for police to refer pejoratively to a black suspect as "negao" and treat him more roughly than they would a white suspect. Thus, for Silveira whose job is training police, the first objective is to overcome denial that racism exists. This cannot be done by accusing the police but by a calm exposition of facts. Only then can the issue be confronted and solutions found.

Outline of a project

12. Quadros stressed the importance of bringing U.S. best practices to Brazil, a bibliography on race and police, and modern teaching methods. He said that any teaching materials brought from the United States and translated into Portuguese could be put onto the Ministry of Justice Web site and thus be available to every state in the country.

13. Keesee volunteered to compile relevant materials on cultural competency used in police academies in the United States and provide them for review by Brazilian police instructors. Embassy will endeavor to translate some of the materials. Keesee said the goal should be to create a "toolkit" specifically adapted to the conditions of southern Brazil and containing manuals, bibliographies, DVDs, PowerPoint presentations and laptops. She stressed that the training, to have a significant impact, must reach the military police of all three states. The job of the military police is prevention and first response; they therefore are much more likely to have clashes with the population than are the civil police, an investigative branch.

14. Goff noted the importance of conducting research in connection with the project and establishing baseline racial attitudes - of police recruits, existing police, and the community in which they work. Without conducting measurements both before and after the training, it will be impossible to determine to what extent the training was successful. Goff said it was also important to examine the police selection process as some racial attitudes cannot be corrected by training.

15. Lusane said that the project should involve the police and black civil society working together at the same table. There must be involvement of and buy-in from the people affected by police racial stereotyping, profiling and abuse. The training should include some historic grounding and a presentation of available data on racial violence. Lusane said there should be an analysis of institutional as well as personal racism and discussion of the intersecting issues of race, sex, class, etc.

Next steps

16. The Brazilian and U.S. sides discussed the following next steps to make the pilot project a reality:
-- Provision of U.S. police training materials on racial profiling.
-- Translation into Portuguese of the most important of these materials.
-- U.S. bibliographical material on content of and methodology for police training programs on racial issues.
-- Return to Brazil of Keesee, Goff and either Lusane or his fellow co-chair of U.S. civil society in the Joint Action Plan, Kimberle Crenshaw, to discuss, adapt and test training materials. This will be done in workshops in Florianopolis in late March and will be organized by Andre Luis Mendes da Silveira, head of the civil police academy of Santa Catarina. Silveira will convoke military and civil police instructors from all three southern states for this purpose.

17. Comment: The U.S.-Brazil project on racial profiling will require additional funding in order to continue. The expenses will be for travel and per diem of U.S. technical experts, mailing, translating and reproducing training materials, and other incidental costs. Post believes this is a worthy project and should be supported with U.S. Speaker, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), or Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT), Department of Justice, funds. Implementing this project will improve the effectiveness of policing in Brazil, promote respect for human rights and non-discrimination, and create a model of cooperation under the U.S.-Brazil Joint Action Plan to Eliminate Racial and Ethnic Discrimination and Promote Equality.


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