Nº 14/00

Elizabeth Cristina de Oliveira Maia was murdered yesterday, September 28, 2000, in Rio de Janeiro, by unknown assailants.  What may appear to be an inconsequential news item has wider implications for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  Elizabeth, who was 23 and a mother of three, survived the August 1993 murders of street children in the Igreja da Candelária area of Rio de Janeiro.  Several members of the Military Police of that state were convicted of that crime, for which other police officers are being prosecuted.  Elizabeth was to testify next week in a case involving those officers. 

On June 16, 2000, Elizabeth told her story in person before a Commission delegation, of her early years as a street child, her difficult adolescence, and her current life, endeavoring to study and work to support her family.  Elizabeth testified before the Commission in the presence of a delegation of families of victims and survivors of the murders that took place at Candelária and Vigário Geral, who were gathered to witness, along with the Commission, the signature by Governor Anthony Garotinho of the state law he sponsored admitting state responsibility for the abovementioned murders and awarding life pensions to the surviving victims or the families of the dead.  At a press conference given that day attended by Elizabeth, her children, and other family members of the victims of these massacres, Governor Garotinho, on behalf of the state of Rio, apologized for the human rights violation perpetrated by state agents, and immediately arranged for negotiations to begin to reach a friendly settlement in connection with those violations.  The cases involving those violations are being processed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 

The Commission hopes that both Brazilian federal authorities and those of the state of Rio de Janeiro take, as a matter of urgency, the necessary investigative and judicial steps to solve the tragic murder of Elizabeth Cristina de Oliveira Maia, prosecute and punish the perpetrators, and prevent a repetition of these deplorable violations of human rights.  


Washington, D.C., September 29, 2000