Trade minister touted UK surveillance technology in meeting with far-right Rio governor
- During a meeting with controversial Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel – a politician who has overseen a dramatic increase in the number of police killings in his state – a British government minister pledged UK support on public security issues, touting his country’s expertise in facial recognition and surveillance.
- Conor Burns, a minister in the Department for International Trade (DIT), praised the far-right Governor’s ambition to reduce violence in his state, according to official documents obtained by Unearthed using the Freedom of Information Act.
- A briefing prepared for the minister ahead of the meeting – held in the city of Rio de Janeiro on August 19 last year – talked up an “opportunity for partnership” in the security sector between the UK and Witzel’s administration. The briefing for Burns noted, under a section titled “points to make”: “public security is also at the top of my government’s agenda”.
- Witzel, an ally of President Jair Bolsonaro, talked of giving police sweeping powers to tackle crime in his state during his election campaign last year, which included a proposal to allow officers to use helicopters as shooting posts to “slaughter” drug gangs.