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Report: Brazil's police committing murder

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Brazilian police are responsible for a goodly portion of the 48,000 homicides committed annually, a U.N. human rights expert said Monday.

The report critical of law enforcement in Brazil also found on-duty police resorted to deadly violence and a large number of off-duty officers participate in death squads or other forms of organized crime, Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a news release.

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"In Rio de Janeiro, the police kill three people every day," Alston said. "They are responsible for one out of every five killings."

Alston conducted a fact-finding mission last year in Brazil, meeting with government officials, including police commanders and senior ministers, as well as non-governmental organizations and more than 40 witnesses to human rights abuses, the United Nations said.

Public outcry has been muted in Brazil because of skepticism about law enforcement in the South American country, Alston said.

A significant factor leading to police officers' membership in organized crime and participation in unlawful killings is the low conviction rate in regular murder cases, he said.

"Clearly, the institutions for holding police accountable are broken, but they are not beyond repair," Alston said.

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