Brazilian police killing at `alarming rates,’ U.N. expert says

GENEVA Brazil’s police continue to kill too many people, while citizens in poor areas live in the shadow of gang violence, a United Nations human rights expert said Tuesday.

“Daily life for too many Brazilians, especially those living in favelas, is still lived in the shadow of killings and violence by gangs, militias, death squads and the police,” according to Philip Alston, the U.N.’s independent expert on extrajudicial executions.

Alston said this was taking place “despite important reforms by the government” and praised Brasilia for “its cooperation and openness to external scrutiny.”

The expert was conducting a follow-up report to a 2007 investigation into killings in Brazil.

He said that since his visit about three years ago, “the situation on the ground has not changed dramatically.”

Between 2003 and 2009, some 11,000 people were killed by police in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in so-called “resistance killings,” a term used by law enforcement officials when referring to acts of self defence.

“The evidence clearly shows that many of these killings were actually executions. But the police at the scene label them resistance killings, and they are almost never seriously investigated,” Alston charged.

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