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
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).
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.
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