Eighteen months after activist Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes were murdered, Amnesty International is renewing calls for officials in Brazil to ramp up efforts in solving her murder.
In a press release, Amnesty International Brazil said the organization has sent letters to the governor of Rio de Janeiro and the public prosecutor for the state. Its executive director, Jurema Weneck, claimed that “little seems to have been done to discover who killed Marielle and why, nor to ensure that all those involved are brought to justice.”
According to Weneck, she met with Rio governor Wilson Witzel in March and he “vowed to invest energy and resources” in solving the March 2017 murders. Franco was shot four times — with three bullets striking her head and one hitting her neck — after leaving a roundtable on empowerment for young, Black, female leaders. While her press officer was also shot in the backseat of the car she was riding in, he survived the attack.
But despite pledges from the governor and local prosecutors, Weneck says it’s been six months since there were any updates in the case. In March, Rio de Janeiro authorities arrested two men accused of pulling the triggers that killed Franco and Gomes but have yet to make any progress at all in identifying the motives behind the brutal assassination.
According to Amnesty, authorities still haven’t answered nearly two dozen questions regarding the investigation, including who ordered the hit, why they ordered it, and what the Federal Police have found while digging into the murder.
“We must never forget that Brazil remains one of the world’s most dangerous countries for human rights defenders,” Werneck said. “By solving Marielle’s murder, the state could demonstrate 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.”
Franco was a Black, bisexual woman who worked as a political activist and coordinator of Rio’s Human Rights Commission for over 10 years. She was tireless in fighting to defend the dignity of the marginalized and speaking out against police brutality. Just days before her death, she called for accountability in the killing of Matheus Melo at the hands of police.
Her murder also highlights the extremely high rate of anti-LGBTQ+ violence in Brazil, where an average of 1.2 queer and trans people are killed every single day.
Amnesty International first put out a petition calling for an investigation into Franco’s murder back in 2018, getting 800,000 signatures from people across the world. A second petition to continue the investigation in the last six months has already garnered more than 80,000 signatures in just Brazil.