Re: Elma Novais, Lawyer

Re: Elma Novais, Lawyer

To: Sr. Gustavo Augusto Rodrigues de LIMA, Secretary of Defense for the State of Pernambuco

From: Paulo de Torso Lugan Arantes

Date: 2003-01-15

‘Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada’ presents you this very communication to show its concern with the security of Dr. Elma NOVAIS, lawyer at the Caruaru city, due to recent threatens she has been suffering, as well as her colleagues.

According to information sent to us, Dr. Novais, her daughter Roxana, and her son, Jefferson, have been suffered veiled threatens and intimidation. Such campaign of fear came up after Dr. Novais started a restless work to bring to justice the responsible for the murder of this son, Josenildo João de Freitas Junior, in 1999, who according to witnesses, was killed by military officers.

On December 17, 2002, at evening, while Dr. Novais was stopped at a traffic light, in a car with police protection (she receives such protection during the day, but not at night), um young man detonated an extremely heavy load of fireworks close to the was she was, with the clear intention of intimidating Dr. Novais.

On the following day, a black car pulled outside her house and two men left the car and walked towards her house, but made a quick getaway after seeing that she was accompanied with a police officer.

On December 27, the son of Dr. Novais, Jefferson, was arrested by the military police in his work place, in the neighboring city of Arcoverde, without any legal justification however. The policemen who arrested him first alleged that his papers were not in order and later claimed that he was a fugitive from the local prison. Jefferson was only released by the intervention of the State Secretary of Social Defense.. The said officers, who refused to talk with Dr. Novais, said that they had made a mistake.

On that same day, her daughter, Roxana (13), who was in a shopping mall in Caruaru, received a mobile call from a voice that claimed to be her brother, Jefferson. The voice asked her to go back home as soon as possible, where her mother would be waiting. Nevertheless, at that very moment, Jefferson was in the Police Detention in Arcoverde. The voice also asked Roxana to describe the clothes she was wearing, so that they could come and pick her up. Roxana did not follow these instructions though.

After reported to your Excellency the facts in concern, we ask for you valuable collaboration, as the head of government the Pernambuco state, by intervene in favor of Dr. Novais and her family. It is also desirable and necessary that a full, prompt and impartial investigation be started about the illegal arrestment of Jefferson de Freitas, bringing against the responsible for these acts efficient disciplinary measures. It is also relevant to stress that Dra. Novais does not receive any kind of protection during the night whatsoever, staying vulnerable in the riskiest time.

As regards the criminal procedure to solve the murder of Josenildo, although there is vast material evidence and eyewitnesses, those responsible for such crime still have not brought to justice. On this particular issue, we kindly ask to inform you the current status of the investigation of that case and also what measures have been taken to solve it.

Additionally, we kindly request that a prompt, full and impartial investigation into military corruption and activities of death squads in the Pernambuco state be opened. It makes necessary that the results of such investigation be made public and that those responsible be brought to justice.

Should your Excellency require any further clarification on this very issue, please do not hesitate to contact us.