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Brazil: Fear for Safety

, Index number: AMR 19/001/2002

Local councillor (vereador) Zito Augusto Correia, also known as ‘Zitinho', was shot and wounded on 12 December 2001, in his house in Canãa dos Carajás, Pará state. Zito Augusto is a leader of the Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em Educação Pública do estado de Pará (SINTEPP), Pará state Teachers' Union. Amnesty International fears that further attempts will be made to kill him or other members of the union who worked alongside him investigating and publicising local political corruption.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 19/001/2002
UA 10/02 Fear for Safety 9 January 2002
BRAZILZito Augusto Correia (m)
Members of the SINTEPP trade union
Local councillor (vereador) Zito Augusto Correia, also known as ‘Zitinho’,
was shot and wounded on 12 December 2001, in his house in Canãa dos Carajás,
Pará state. Zito Augusto is a leader of the Sindicato dos Trabalhadores em
Educação Pública do estado de Pará (SINTEPP), Pará state Teachers’ Union.
Amnesty International fears that further attempts will be made to kill him
or other members of the union who worked alongside him investigating and
publicising local political corruption.
Zito Augusto had been sitting at a table feeding his one-year-old son when
he was attacked. At around 7.30pm the power to his house was cut off: after
about three minutes the lights came on again, and a man with a pistol appeared
in the doorway, shouting that he was going to rob them and then started to
shoot. Zito Augusto was reportedly hit in the left arm and in the chest, piercing
his lung and his liver. He managed to get up from the table to try to escape,
but was then shot again in the hand and the leg. His son was not hurt in the
attack.
Zito Augusto was rushed to a hospital in Paraupebas, 80km away, where he has
made a steady recovery. Police investigating the incident have dismissed the
possibility that the attack was part of a robbery, since there was no evidence
of theft at the scene. Instead, the attack is believed to have been the work
of a hired gunman.
Amnesty International has already documented the increasing number of killings
by hired gunmen in the state of Pará (See UA 303/01, AMR 19/030/2001, of 29
November 2001, and UA 326/01, AMR 19/031/2001, of 19 December 2001). Zito Augusto
had been sent several death threats following his activity as a union leader
and since he began to investigate local corruption in his region. The threats
increased following his discovery of alleged incidents of fraud relating to
the distribution of public funds, and his call for a public inquiry into certain
members of the town council (câmera municipal).
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Violence has reached critical levels in recent months in Pará. Killings of
land activists and trade unionists are rarely investigated properly and those
responsible are rarely if ever punished, often because witnesses are intimidated
or killed. Amnesty International has been campaigning against the widespread
impunity in the region for over 10 years. An investigative commission of Federal
deputies traveled to Pará in October 2001 and recommended that a Federal police
team be immediately sent to the area to investigate and bring to justice those
involved in perpetuating the cycle of violence in the state.
On 6 December 2001 members of the Federal Commission of Human Rights presented
the Minister of Justice with a report detailing the killings and attacks against
politicians or political activists in Brazil over the last three years.
According to the commission, since 1998 there have been 12 killings, 15 attempted
killings and 52 cases of death threats.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
Portuguese, English or your own language:
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- urging the authorities to guarantee the safety of town councillor and union
leader Zito Augusto Correia as well as other members of the SINTEPP union,
and provide them with the protection they need to continue their work;
- calling for an immediate full and impartial investigation into the shooting
of Zito Augusto Correia, and for all those responsible to be brought to justice;
- reminding the authorities of recommendations made by the Federal Commission
of Human Rights, following their visit to Pará in October 2001, especially
those calling for a federal police investigation into violence in the region
and an end to impunity;
- urging the Brazilian government to investigate allegations of widespread
attacks against politicians or political activists, especially those
investigating reported incidents of corruption.
APPEALS TO:
Governor of Pará State
Exmo. Sr. Governador do Estado do Pará
Sr. Almir José de Oliveira Gabriel
Palácio dos Despachos
Rodovia Augusto Montenegro KM 9
66823-010 Belém, PA, Brazil
Fax: + 55 91 248 0133
Salutation:Vossa Excêlencia/Your Excellency
Pará State Secretary for Public Security
Secretário de Segurança Pública do Estado do Pará
Sr. Paulo Celso P. Sette Câmara
Rua Arcipreste Manoel Teodoro 305
66023-700 Belém, PA, Brazil
Fax: + 55 91 225 2644
Salutation:Sr Secretário/ Dear Secretary
Federal Minister of Justice
Exmo. Sr. Ministro da Justiça do Brasil
Dr. Aloysio Nunes Ferreira
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios
Bloco ‘T’, 4º andar, Sala 400
70064-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil
Fax: + 55 61 322 6817/225 0289
Salutation:Vossa Excêlencia/Your Excellency
Secretary of State for Human Rights
Exmo. Sr. Secretário de Estado dos Direitos Humanos
Paulo Sergio Pinheiro
Secretaria de Estado dos Direitos Humanos
Ministério da Justiça
Esplanada dos Ministérios
Bloco T, 4º andar, Sala 420
70064-900 Brasília, DF, Brazil
Fax: + 55 61 223 2260/226 7980
Salutation:Sr Secretário/ Dear Secretary
COPIES TO:
SINTEPP
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Av. Conselheiro Furtado,
Passagem do Sol nº 87
66040-440, Belém PA
Brazil
and to diplomatic representatives of Brazil accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 20 February 2002.

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