PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 19/32/99
UA 325/99 Death treats / Fear for safety 23 December 1999
BRAZILJoao Soares, President of the Confederation of Security Guard Trade Unions
in Paraná, and family.
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of prominent trade unionist
Joao Soares who has been threatened with death, allegedly by police officers.
The threats against Joao Soares, President of the Federation of Security Guard
Trade Unions in Paraná (FETRAVISPP), Federacao de Sindicatos dos Empregados
em Empresas de Vigilancia do Estado do Paraná, follow FETRAVISPP complaints
about police officers illegally working as private security guards, including
at times when they are meant to be on police duty.
The FETRAVISPP complaints echo a series of complaints made to the authorities
in October 1999 by the Trade Union Federation which claimed that private security
firms were being run by military police officers who were employing other police
to work for them, again including during on-duty hours. FETRAVISPP claimed
that these firms were breaking the law that specifies that security guards
should be formally registered after completing approved training courses, and
that they were diverting resources from public security duties.
Following considerable press coverage of the issues, anonymous phone calls
were made to Joao Soares advising him to: “para com as denuncias, voce não
sabe com que esta mexendo”, “stop the denunciations, you don't know who you’re
messing with”, and “Os policiais militares estao ficando muito irritados com
as denuncias”, “the military police are getting very irriated by the
On 23 October a computer containing records of the complaints was stolen from
Joao Soares’s office. Two days later a military policeman arrived at FETRAVISPP
offices to convey a message from a military police colonel to the directors
advising the union to withdraw its complaint about a particular security firm.
On 30 October, Joao Soares made a formal complaint to the police about the
threats and, on 21 December, was informed by them that they were making
significant progress with their enquiries. Despite this, they have failed to
take action in relation to the death threats or to offer him and his family,
who have been threatened on two more occasions, police protection. In addition,
Joao Soares has been told that police are furious at the prospect of losing
On 14 December, security guard union representatives, including Joao Soares,
met with the Brazilian Minister of Justice, José Carlos Dias. They were seeking
a federal police investigation into illegal police involvement in security
companies and an investigation into the death threats against Joao Soares as
well as police protection for him and his family.
Police authorities generally turn a blind eye to the widespread practice of
police running and working for private security firms during their off-duty
time, as an alternative to paying better police salaries. Despite increasing
reports that police have been working for private firms during their on-duty
hours, however, the involvement of high-ranking police officers has acted as
a barrier to any in-depth investigation and punishment of the infringement
of regulations in this regard.