Human Rights


Swiss military vehicles used in the slums of Rio de Janeiro: My statement

Armored vehicles used in military operations in the slums of Rio de Janeiro between 2014 and 2018 were originally exported to Brazil through Switzerland for humanitarian purposes. This is the result of investigative research by Lighthouse Reports.

The thirty so-called “Piranha 3C” vehicles were exported between 2007 and 2014 to be used by the Brazilian armed forces in a United Nations humanitarian mission in Haiti (the Brazilian army led the UN mission from 2004 to 2017).

When used in the favelas, the vehicles in some cases belonged to the BOPE (Special Police Operations Battalion) – a group responsible for extrajudicial killings, according to Human Rights Watch. In some actions, shots fired from the vehicles hit civilians in the context of human rights violations. An example is Vitor Borges, then 29. He was walking home with friends when the car he was in was hit by gunfire from a soldier. The young man had to have his leg amputated and he has been paraplegic ever since.

The case shows how easily weapons and armoured vehicles can be misused

For me, it is shocking to see evidence of Swiss armed vehicles being used by Brazilian police in the context of human rights abuses against the poorest and most vulnerable. Those who made the decision to export in Switzerland may not have intended this complicity, but the case demonstrates the ease with which weapons or armed vehicles can be misused.

I talked about the issue with the Brazilian newspaper mundo. English-language media also reported upon the topic.

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