A Brazilian state lawmaker is asking the public prosecutors' office to open an investigation into the police's use of sharpshooters to kill alleged criminals in Rio de Janeiro.
Lawmaker Renata Souza leads the human rights commission in Rio's lower house. She requested an investigation Monday, saying Brazil doesn't permit the death penalty and the use of sharpshooters is illegal.
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel said in an interview Sunday that snipers were already operating in the state, having been deployed to shoot armed suspects.
The idea of deploying snipers had been perceived as merely a campaign promise, despite an outcry by human rights activists, but Witzel said that since taking office in January he has put it into practice.
He called drug-traffickers "narco-terrorists" and said he would empower policemen to shoot down any criminal seen carrying a rifle.
"The snipers are used in absolute secrecy. They are already used, but it is not spoken of. The principle is clear: if an individual carries an assault rifle, he must be neutralised immediately by lethal means," Witzel said in the interview with the daily O Globo.
Witzel was elected to office in October after campaigning on a promise to crack down on crime. His tough stance on matters of public security often aligns with that of President Jair Bolsonaro.