Dr. Elma Novais – Lawyer

Dr. Elma Novais and her children Jefferson and Roxana have gone through a campaign of veiled threats and intimidation that appears designed to intimidate Dr. Novais who has been working tirelessly to bring to justice those responsible for killing her son, Josenildo Joao de Freitas Junior. He was shot dead in 1999 by a group of men who witnesses described as military policemen. On the afternoon of 17 December 2002, while Dr. Dovais was waiting at traffic lights in a car with her police escort, a young boy detonated an extremely loud firework next to her car before running away. The firework seems to intend to intimidate Dr. Novais. The next day, a black car pulled up outside her house. Two men got out and walked towards the house, but made a quick getaway after seeing that she was accompanied by a police officer.

On 27 December, Dr Novais’ son Jefferson was detained without reason by military policemen at his place of work in the neighbouring town of Arcoverde. He was only released after intervention by the Pernambuco State Secretary for Social Defence. Police officers at the station, who refused to speak to Dr Novais, said that they had made a mistake. On the same day Dr Novais’ 13 year old daughter Roxana, who was out shopping, received a telephone call on her mobile phone from someone claiming to be Jefferson, her brother. The voice asked her to go as quickly as possible to her mother’s house where he was waiting and asked her to describe the clothes that she was wearing, so that they could come and pick her up. At the time however, Jefferson was in police detention in Arcoverde. Roxana did not follow these instructions.

Amnesty international is concerned for the safety of Dr. Elma Novais and her children.


Letter written January 15, 2003 by Gail Davidson, Executive director of LRWC