Amnesty International has launched a new smartphone application to help document firearm use in Rio de Janeiro, as security concerns mount ahead of the 2016 Olympic games.
The application, named Cross-Fire, is designed to “allow people living across Rio de Janeiro to report incidents of gun violence, which have been increasing over the last few years,” according to Amnesty International (AI).
Instances of gunfire reported by users of the application will be placed on a map of the city. AI hopes the information will allow for a better understanding of the geographic and social distribution of gun violence and help make up for underreporting of the issue to police.
AI’s Brazil Director, Atila Roque, noted that guns kill around 42,000 people in Brazil annually, with a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities.
“The application is a tool to give more visibility to the tragic reality thousands of people across Rio de Janeiro have to live with every day and a way to urge the authorities to take some real steps to tackle this crisis,” Roque said.
The development of Cross-Fire is part of AI’s campaign “Violence Has No Place in These Games!,” which seeks to draw attention to human rights violations committed by Brazilian security forces in the context of the upcoming Olympics, which start next month.
The application will be in a testing phase for six months, and data collected during July will be presented during a press conference in Rio on August 2.
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News reports ahead of the Rio Olympics have been filled with concerning tales of polluted water, unfinished venues, and the Zika virus.
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To make matters worse, violence in Rio is on the upswing. So far in 2016, Rio has averaged over 400 murders per month — roughly 14 per day — while street muggings are up 43 percent this year. In late June, Rio police officers began greeting travelers outside the city’s main airport with signs reading “Welcome To Hell,” with the subheading warning “Police And Firefighters Don’t Get Paid, Whoever Comes To Rio De Janeiro Will Not Be Safe.”
In an attempt to restore security and reassure wary foreign visitors, Brazil began deploying national security forces to patrol Rio’s Olympic sites on July 5. Overall, 85,000 police and soldiers will reportedly be in Rio to provide security during the games.
The heavy security force presence in Rio, however, is causing concerns about the potential for human rights violations. So far in 2016, Rio has seen a dramatic increase in shootouts between police and criminal groups. And according to Amnesty International, there was a 135 percent spike in the number of people killed by police officers in May compared to the same month in 2015.