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Brazil: Community at imminent risk of forced eviction

, Index number: AMR 19/015/2010

The community of Restinga is in imminent risk of forced eviction due to the construction of a highway in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro. After months of threats, on 22 October 2010 at 9:00am council workers, accompanied by heavily armed civil and military police, began bulldozing a commercial district that has existed for over twenty years, destroying five shops.

UA: 229/10 Index: AMR 19/015/2010 Brazil Date: 29 October 2010
URGENT ACTION
COMMUNITY AT IMMINENT RISK OF FORCED EVICTION
The community of Restinga is in imminent risk of forced eviction due to the construction of a
highway in Recreio dos Bandeirantes, Rio de Janeiro. After months of threats, on 22 October at
9:00am council workers, accompanied by heavily armed civil and military police, began
bulldozing a commercial district that has existed for over twenty years, destroying five shops.
The community was not given any prior warning of the operation, which involved over a hundred state functionaries
including heavily armed police. When they challenged council workers to produce a judicial order for the
demolitions, they were told this was not needed and that they should “keep quiet” and “not interfere”. Residents
demanded that the workers produce identification, but were threatened with arrest.
Council workers told residents that they would return by 5 November to demolish houses and that if there was any
resistance they would use force and take away their belongings. One resident told Amnesty International that on 22
October council workers destroyed his shop without warning, forcing him to construct a make-shift stall to protect
his goods and machinery. Three days later, the council returned and removed his stall, taking his merchandise away.
Since the announcement of the intention to build the Transoeste highway and the release of lists of communities
effected , including Restinga, residents of the 153 family-strong community which was established over 50 years
ago, have never received any notification of the council’s plans or opportunities to discuss the matter with officials.
Residents told Amnesty International that on a previous attempt to carry out the eviction on 22 July, council workers
arrived unannounced and sprayed “SMH” (Secretaria Municipal de Habitação) on the houses to be removed. They
were told that their houses would be demolished in five days and council workers tried to make residents sign
documents without allowing them to read them, offering them apartments in housing estates 30 kms away. They
were also told if they tried to judicially challenge the decision they would be left with nothing. Only after the
intervention of the Public Defenders Office was the eviction averted.
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English, Portuguese or your own language:
Calling for an immediate moratorium on evictions of communities affected by the construction of the Transoeste
highway, including Restinga;
Urging that the authorities to fulfil their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, municipal law and the Brazilian Constitution, giving residents full and timely information about
government proposals affecting their community, engaging in a genuine negotiation with the community to explore
all alternatives to eviction, and where necessary offering full compensation or alternative, adequate housing close to
the existing community;
Calling on the authorities to investigate all alleged illegal actions, threats and intimidation on the part of the
authorities against communities allocated for eviction.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 DECEMBER 2010 TO:
Eduardo Paes
Prefeito
Prefeitura Municipal do Rio de Janeiro
Centro Administrativo São Sebastião
Rua Afonso Cavalcanti, 455
Cidade Nova (Estácio)
20.211-110 - Rio de Janeiro/RJ
Brasil
Fax: + 55 21 2273 9977
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Prefeito
Pierre Batista
Secretário Municipal de Habitação
Secretaria Municipal de Habitação
SMH
Rua Afonso Cavalcanti, 455 / 4º andar -
Anexo Cidade Nova
Cep: 20.211 - 110
Fax: + 55 21 2293-8694 (fax)
Salutation: Exmo. Sr. Secretário
And copies to:
Dr. Alexandre Mendes
Núcleo de Terras e Habitação
Defensoria Pública Geral do Estado
Av. Marechal Câmara, 314, 2º andar
Centro
20.020-080 - Rio de Janeiro/RJ - Brasil
Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.
Date: 29 October 2010
URGENT ACTION
COMMUNITY AT IMMINENT RISK OF FORCED EVICTION
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
The city of Rio de Janerio is currently undergoing extensive infrastructural works to prepare for the hosting of the World Cup in
2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016. Three transport corridors for express bus services are planned, the TransOlímpica,
TransOeste e TransCarioca. Many communities are now threatened with eviction along these routes. According to Rio de Janeiro’s
Public Defenders Office (Defensoria Pública) in many cases the municipal authorities have been acting illegally by denying basic
information to the communities affected, failing to negotiate with communities or explore alternatives to evictions, and not
offering adequate alternative housing.
Many of the residents Amnesty International has spoken to said that the council was pressuring them to leave their homes. They
also said that the level of compensation was inadequate for them to buy a similar house in their area and that the only alternative
had been small apartments in housing estates 30-40 kilometres from where they were currently living. Many of these estates are
in Campo Grande, the west zone of the city, which is currently dominated by mafia-like para-policing groups, and is unsuitable
for resettlement.
Amnesty International visited the community of Restinga in October 2010. During the visit, residents gave Amnesty International
delegates a statement which read: “we are suffering constant pressure, living in fear, without being able to sleep peacefully,
frightened by the idea that we will be forced out without respect for our rights guaranteed in the constitution… we don’t have
anywhere to go, many of us are elderly, retired, without family; others have children and grandchildren who study and work in the
region… the council’s idea is for us to abandon our houses, our businesses and our social life in exchange for a miniscule
apartment a long way from our region… we want the council to respect the laws… which give us the right to just compensation.
We want to live in our neighbourhood, where we have set down roots.”
UA: 229/10 Index: AMR 19/015/2010 Issue Date: 29 October 2010

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