Saturday, January 28, 2012

Brazil: Evictions - UN rights expert "appalled" at excessive use of force

An independent United Nations human rights expert today urged Brazilian authorities to suspend evictions from the Pinheirinho settlement in São Paulo and find durable solutions with residents.

Raquel Rolnik, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, called on the authorities to find a “peaceful and appropriate solution,” including housing alternatives, for those evicted this week from the settlement, located in the capital’s São Jose dos Campos city.

About 6,000 residents have been affected by the eviction order dictated by a judge in late December last year, according to a news release issued by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“I’m appalled by the excessive use of force reportedly used during the evictions on 22 January,” the Special Rapporteur said.

She cited information she has received suggesting that the military police of São Paulo used tear gas and rubber bullets against the residents, including children and the elderly. Twenty residents were reportedly injured, one severely, and 30 arrested.

“I’m told Pinheirinho is still under siege and that nobody is allowed to enter the area,” Ms. Rolnik said. “The current situation of the evictees is extremely worrying; with no housing alternatives they are vulnerable to other human rights violations.”

The expert, who reports in an independent and unpaid capacity to the UN Human Rights Council, appealed to the authorities of the State of São Paulo to suspend the eviction order and the police action in Pinheirinho, stating that this which would allow the authorities to resume negotiations with residents to find a peaceful solution.