• Press Release

18 Months On, Brazilian Authorities Must Not Let Marielle Franco Killing Remain Unsolved

September 11, 2019

People attend a memorial Mass to mark the one-year death anniversary of slain councilwoman Marielle Franco, at the Candelaria Catholic Church in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, March 14, 2019. Authorities arrested two former police officers Tuesday in the killing of Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes, a brazen assassination that shocked Brazilians and sparked protests in several countries. (Photo by Fabio Vieira/FotoRua/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Six months after authorities in Rio de Janeiro arrested two men accused of killing Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, and committed to continue the investigations in meetings with Amnesty International and Marielle’s family, they have yet to make any meaningful progress in identifying those who ordered the crime and their motives.

In light of the lack of progress in the investigation, Amnesty International has sent letters to the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Wilson Witzel, and the public prosecutor for the state, Dr José Eduardo Gussem, renewing its calls for them to solve the killings and provide up-to-date information on the ongoing police inquiries and other investigative actions.

“On the day we met in person, March 13, the governor vowed to invest energy and resources in solving the murders of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes. The state prosecutor made the same commitment, but since then little seems to have been done to discover who killed Marielle and why, nor to ensure that all those involved are brought to justice. This calls into question the authorities’ commitment to swift action,” said Jurema Werneck, executive director of Amnesty International Brazil.

“We are therefore renewing our calls for action from the authorities, as well as reaffirming our own commitment to the case. We will not rest until the truth is known, until all those responsible for this crime, including its physical perpetrators and its instigators, have been brought to justice in a fair trial, and the state provides protection and psychosocial support for Marielle and Anderson’s families.”

Marielle Franco was a black, bisexual woman who lived in a favela. A courageous human rights defender, she worked tirelessly to defend people’s dignity, especially that of the most marginalized. For more than ten years, she served as a political activist and as coordinator of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, where she helped dozens of victims, including police officers and their families. She was also rapporteur of the commission monitoring the federal intervention by the army in Rio de Janeiro in 2018.

On September 14, it will be 18 months since Marielle and her driver were killed. The arrest of two people suspected to be the physical perpetrators was an important step towards guaranteeing the right to truth and justice for victims. However, those who instigated and orchestrated the crime have not been identified.

At the beginning of the year, Amnesty International highlighted 23 questions about the case that had yet to be resolved. Some of those have since been answered, such as the question concerning the investigation’s use of the mobile phone carried by the driver of the shooters’ car. However, other crucial questions remain unanswered, such as the conclusions of the investigations carried out by the Federal Police, the route taken by the car used in the crime and, in particular: who ordered Marielle to be killed, and why?

“We must never forget that Brazil remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries for human rights defenders. By solving Marielle’s murder, the state could demonstrate that that it will not tolerate any attack against human rights defenders. The authorities must send a clear message that they will guarantee the protection of all those who fight for what they believe in: the guarantee of human rights for all,” said Jurema Werneck.

Additional information

Amnesty International has conducted a global campaign calling for justice for Marielle since March 2018. Its first petition, asking who killed Marielle, amassed 800,000 signatures worldwide. The document was presented to the Governor of Rio de Janeiro and the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, in March 2019, a year after the killings.

In April, in light of the arrests of the suspected physical perpetrators of the crime, Amnesty International took further action to pressure the authorities to continue the investigations until justice is done, with all those involved identified and fairly tried. This second petition has already collected more than 80,000 signatures in Brazil alone.

Last year, Marielle Franco was one of ten cases included in Amnesty’s global campaign “Write for Rights,” which encourages people across the world to write letters for human rights defenders and their families. In an outpouring of solidarity, Marielle’s case inspired around 30,000 letters across the world.