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Brazil: Amnesty International condemns the attacks and invasion of public buildings in Brasilia by extremist groups

Amnesty International calls for the relevant authorities to conduct prompt, impartial and effective investigations so that the acts of this Sunday, 8 January, are appropriately investigated and sanctioned. The attacks and invasion of public buildings, destruction of documents, violations of the security and physical integrity of journalists covering the events and of security forces officers attacked by groups of civilians must be investigated. Attempts to destroy and take equipment and cameras from media professionals represent a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression and of the press.

Amnesty International will monitor the federal intervention in public security in the Federal District, decreed today by the President of the Republic, Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, in response to what happened.

It is vital that the authorities ensure the complete and immediate evacuation of the Praça dos Três Poderes, including the National Congress, the Planalto Palace and the Federal Supreme Court. The destruction of public buildings representing institutions of the three branches of government should be investigated by the competent bodies and those responsible should be investigated, prosecuted, tried and punished, in accordance with international human rights standards.

The Brazilian state’s obligation to guarantee human rights means the authorities should be prepared to respond to political demonstrations. This requires intelligence, planning, prevention and monitoring of high-risk scenarios and groups that seek to affect the enjoyment of rights, in order to facilitate proportionate institutional reactions. International human rights standards allow the dispersion of demonstrations on specific occasions, including, for example, when they incite discrimination, hostility or violence. Today’s invasion in Brasilia does not meet international standards for a peaceful demonstration.

Today, 8 January 2023, a crowd of at least 3,900 demonstrators from civilian groups contesting the outcome of the 2022 Presidential Elections invaded the National Congress, the Planalto Palace and the headquarters of the Federal Supreme Court in Brasilia. In the early hours of Saturday, 7 January, concern was already building over the arrival in Brasilia of more than 100 buses carrying demonstrators, when the Minister of Justice and Public Security authorized the use of the National Force to carry out security at the site. The Federal District government failed to guarantee security and did not take the necessary measures to stop the violent acts and the invasion of public buildings that had already been announced by extremist groups.

Amnesty International has been observing with concern, since the first round of the presidential elections, the escalation of violence and threats to the rule of law by organized groups, in some cases armed, challenging not only the outcome of the electoral process, but also the functioning of state institutions.

It is alarming that authorities such as the Federal Police, Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office, Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Federal District and the Government of the Federal District have not been able to identify the instigators and financiers of the invasion and prevent today’s attacks from taking place. 

Amnesty International demands that the Brazilian state ensure a prompt, impartial, serious and effective investigation into the circumstances that led to the invasion and attacks that took place on 8 January 2023 in Brasilia, in order to identify, prosecute, judge and hold accountable all those involved in these incidents, including the instigators, organizers and financiers, as well as the omissions of state institutions that failed to act to prevent these attacks from taking place.