Brazilian authorities are facing mounting pressure to identify those responsible for the murder of Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman and rights activist Marielle Franco, who was gunned down last week in what many believe was a targeted assassination.
The shooting of Franco and her driver on March 14 prompted an outpouring of anger in grief in Brazil, with tens of thousands of protestors marching through administrative districts last week. Millions more took to social media to denounce the killing.
The U.N. has called for a “thorough, transparent and independent” inquiry, which an investigating prosecutor told the Guardian is believed to be connected to Franco’s political work.
Franco, 38, was an advocate for marginalized communities, including Afro-Brazilians, LGBTQ groups and residents of the city’s sprawling favelas, frequently spoke out against police brutality and racial inequality.
The only black female representative on Rio’s city council, she had also criticized President Michel Temer’s deployment of military forces to provide security in Rio’s most dangerous slums.
On March 22, prominent figures posted an open letter demanding an independent probe. “We call for justice for Marielle Franco and the daughter and the partner she leaves behind, and for an end to the killings and criminalization of activists, government opponents and low-income people in Brazil,” they wrote.