Brazil: Lawyer Investigating Police Response To Trans Murder Is Killed; President Receives Life Threat

Act Now To Demand An End To Impunity And Police Protection For Threatened Activists!
In late December 2002, a transvestite known as Ze Galinha was shot to dead by a Military Police with the surname of Edras, in front of several witnesses on the street. The police refused to hear the testimony of witnesses and arrest the alleged murderer. The local gay organization AAGLT (Amazonian Association of Gays, Lesbians and Transvestites) launched a media campaign, staged street demonstrations, and obtained support from the local legislature to investigate the murder. Marcelo Cruz, a lawyer working for a local MP, took the case, and a judge ordered preventive arrest of policemen Edras. Afterwards, both Mr. Cruz and AAGLT's President Adamor Guedes were faced repeated harassment and threats. On January 27, Marcelo Cruz was found murdered in his apartment. Threats against Adamor Guedes' life continued. AAGLT has demanded protection for its President's life; authorities have not replied.

FORWARDED ACTION

IGLHRC supports AAGLT in asking for messages of protest to be sent to the following authorities:

Dr. JÚLIO PINHEIRO
Secretário de Estado de Segurança Pública do Estado do
Amazonas (Public Security Secretary for the Amazonas State)
Av. Santa Cruz Machado, 850 - Japiim
Manaus - AM.
Cep. 69060-001
Phone: (55 92) 237-9136
Fax: (55 92) 631-1864
Email: Julio.pinheiro@uol.com.br
Dr. FREDERICO DA SILVA VEIGA
Secretário de Estado de Justiça, Direitos Humanos e Cidadania (Justice, Human Rights and Citizenship Secretary for the Amazonas State)
Av. Epaminondas, 600 - Centro
Manaus - Am.
Cep. 69010-090
Phone: (55 92) 215-2704
Fax: (55 92) 215-2707
E.mail: secestado@sejusc.am.gov.br
Dr. CARLOS EDUARDO BRAGA
Governador do Estado do Amazonas (Governor of the Amazonas State)
Rua Recife, 3280 - Parque 10
Manaus - Am.
Cep.69057-002
Phone: (55 92) 648-0837
Fax: (55 92) 634-0048
E.mail: gabgov@prodamnet.com.br

And please send a copy to AAGLT at:
aaglt@bol.com.b

MODEL LETTER

Dear Sir,

We write to you to express our concern for the death threats against and attacks on the home of Mr. Adamor Guedes, president of Associaçao Amazonense de Gays, Lésbicas e Travestís (AAGLT). These threats acquired an ominous reality after the murder of lawyer Marcelo Cruz, who was cooperating with AAGLT in the case of a transvestite murdered by a Military Policer Officer in front of several witnesses in late December 2002.

As a human rights defender who works for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population in Amazonas, Mr. Guedes is entitled to the protection of the State. We demand an immediate investigation into the threats and urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure Mr. Guedes' safety as well as that of the other members of AAGLT.

The population that Mr. Guedes defends is the target of severe abuse in the state of Amazonas. AAGLT and other Brazilian organizations like Grupo Gay de Bahía have documented murders and police abuse against gay men, lesbians and transvestites within the state. It has also documented discrimination in the work place and lack of access to education and health services provided by the State.

Your mandate obligates you to ensure that the human rights of all are respected. You are also bound by the Brazilian Constitution--which offers protection from discrimination in the enjoyment of all fundamental rights and freedoms--as well as international human rights treaties ratified by Brazil.

We encourage you to fulfill your obligations and serve your people, with openness and a will for cooperation.

Sincerely,

[Name, organization, address]

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

In late December, 2002, a Military Police Officer whose surname is Edras shot to dead a transvestite known as "Ze Galinha", on the street, in front of several people. The police arrived on the scene few minutes after the murder. The killer had been held on the spot by the witnesses; in spite of that, the police refused to arrest Mr. Edras.

Those who had witnessed the incident reported it to the local gay, lesbian and transvestite organization AAGLT (Associação Amazonense de Gays, Lésbicas e Travestis). AAGLT conducted an intense media campaign and street demonstrations demanding that police listen to the testimony of the witnesses and arrest the murderer.

Seeking legal advice, AAGLT contacted MP Mário Frota, chair of the Human Rights Commission in the local legislature. Mr. Frota appointed the Commission's secretary, lawyer Marcelo Cruz, to assist in the case. AAGLT went to Court, and the judge ordered the preventive arrest of the murderer, policemen Edras. The arrest has not taken place yet.

Two days later, an attempt to break-and-enter into the home of AAGLT's President, Mr. Adamor Guedes, took place. When Mr. Guedes went to the police to complain, he was told that the attempt had been carried out by a group of policemen commanded by Edras.

On January 19, 2003, lawyer Marcelo Cruz was shot in the leg as he was about to enter his car. The attacker told Mr. Cruz that it was "just a warning" and that something similar would happen to Mr. Guedes at any moment.

On January 20, 2003, MP Mário Frota and laywer Marcelo Cruz met with the Secretary of Security for the Amazonas State, Mr. Júlio Pinheiro, and demanded protection for Mr. Cruz. Their request was denied.

On January 27, 2003, Marcelo Cruz was found dead in his apartment. According to some of his friends who were with him at a bar the night before, 2 armed men had forced Mr. Cruz to drink from a glass at the bar. The local Forensic Pathology office could not establish the cause of death, and sent Mr. Cruz's body to Brazília (the country's capital) for further examination. But a preliminary report indicates "poisoning" as the most likely cause of death.

Mr. Cruz was involved in several criminal investigations, on issues like child prostitution, traffic of women, and corruption by State authorities, which makes it difficult to determine the groups holding an interest in disposing of him. However, the threats, uttered by the man who attacked him on January 19, point in the direction of the Military Police and the murder of a trans person committed by one of them.

Meanwhile, Mr. Guedes received several death threats by phone. On January 21, AAGLT submitted a request for police protection for its President, Mr. Guedes, to the State Justice and Human Rights Secretary. Their request has not been addressed.

INTERNATIONAL LAW

Right to life (and to liberty and security of person) is protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in its Article 3; by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in its Articles 6 and 9, and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (IAHRC) in its Articles 4 and 7.

Right to equality before the law and to be free from discrimination are protected by the UDHR in its Articles 2 and 7, by the ICCPR in its Articles 2 and 26, and by the IACHR in its Articles 1 and 24.

Right to equality before the courts and tribunals is protected by ICCPR in its Article 14.

Right to effective remedy is protected by the UDHR in its Article 8.

Right to judicial protection is protected by the ICHR in its Article 25.

Right to be free from arbitrary or unlawful interferences with one's home (as an integral part of right to privacy) is protected by the ICCPR in its Article 17 and by the IAHRC in its Article 11.2

The United Nations Human Rights Committee affirmed in its decision in Toonen v Australia (1994) that existing protections against discrimination in Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR should be understood to include sexual orientation as a protected status. Numerous other human rights mechanisms of the United Nations have subsequently condemned discrimination based on sexual orientation. The UN Committee on Economic and Social Rights has made a similar observation, in its General Comment 14 on the right to health, to be applied to all economic, social and cultural rights.

The UN Declaration Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (G.A. res.53/144, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/RES/53/144 - 1999) affirms: "Everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be effectively protected under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States which result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.2). And it adds that, "In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts … attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.3).

Brazil has ratified both the ICCPR and the IAHRC in 1992. The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Brazil.

The Brazilian Constitution protects the right to equality before the law and affirms the rights to "life, freedom, equality, safety…" (Article 5), and the "inviolability of the home" (Article 5.11).