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80 per cent of victims of Rio de Janeiro police killings are black

EIGHTY per cent of those killed by police in Rio de Janeiro in the first half of last year were black, a survey has revealed.

The figure for Rio de Janeiro state, for just the first six months of 2019, is similar to that for Brazil as a whole in 2018, according to data published by the Institute of Public Security (IPS).

Citing official statistics, the IPS said that of the 885 people who lost their lives at the hands of the police between January and June last year, 711 were dark-skinned, equating to 80.3 per cent of deaths.

Gabriel Sampaio, a lawyer with Brazilian human rights organisation Conectas, said the racial aspect of police killings in Rio de Janeiro state is undeniable.

He said that the figures paint “a portrait of deaths that reveals how structural racism is in Brazil and how much it is institutional.”

The bloodiest day in the period covered by the figures was February 8 2019, when 18 people were killed by police during an operation in the favela (shanty town) of Fallet. Nine of the victims were inside the same house.

According to the police, all were linked to “drug trafficking,” but this is a routine allegation against inhabitants of the favelas, which include a high percentage of black people.

Robson Rodrigues of the State University of Rio de Janeiro said that the number of killings by state agents had reached a record level, while the number of homicides was the lowest since 1991.

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has been involved in a series of scandals due to his encouragement of police killings.

Last November, he initiated legislation to prevent the police and military from being held legally accountable for deaths.

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