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Brazil official promises ombudsmen in Rio slums

April 3, 2014

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Authorities will set up offices in the slums of Brazil’s second largest city to receive complaints about abuse of power by police, the top security official of the state of Rio de Janeiro said Thursday.

Jose Mariano Beltrame made the promise during a meeting with residents of the Mare complex of slums, who expressed fears of police violence and human rights abuses.

Beltrame acknowledged that police “at times act in an aggressive way” but he said “this is not the rule.”

He said ombudsmen offices will be installed in slums with police pacification units that are aimed at driving out drug traffickers and improving security.

On March 30, police officers and marines entered Mare, a complex of 15 slums.

Security forces will eventually set up permanent posts in Mare as part of the pacification program that began in 2008 and is meant to secure Rio ahead of not the World Cup and also the 2016 Summer Olympics. Police have installed 37 such posts in recent years in an area covering 1.5 million people.

In recent months, gangs have attacked police outposts in other shantytowns on orders from imprisoned gang leaders who want to stop the spread of the program. With each area police occupy, gangs lose valuable territory for the manufacture and sale of drugs.

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