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
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.
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.