SAO PAULO, Oct 31, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Brazil registered more than 61,000 murders in 2016, an average of seven an hour, according to a report Monday which highlighted what researchers called a collapse in the country’s security.
The report put the murder rate at 29.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, almost three times the 10 per 100,000 considered by the UN as the threshold definition of endemic violence.
“I have the impression that we are adrift,” said Cassio Thyone of the Brazilian NGO Public Security Forum, which publishes the annual report.
The number of people killed by police rose 26.8 percent over the year before.
Almost all the victims were male, 81.8 percent of them aged 12-29, and three-quarters of them were black, according to the NGO.
On average, more than 11 people a day were killed in police raids in Brazil in 2016, nearly a quarter of them in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which is facing a surge of violence since it hosted the Olympic Games last year.
The problem is acute in the favelas where around a quarter of the city’s population of 6.5 million live, and where drug gangs control much of the territory.
Last week, police accidentally shot and killed a Spanish tourist visiting a violent favela slum where two officers had been wounded.
A total of 925 people were killed by security forces in Rio last year, a staggering increase of 43 percent on 2015.
Rio state is also where the greatest number of police officers were killed in 2016: 132 in total, only 40 while on duty.
Some 113 police officers have been killed so far in 2017, the Public Security Forum said.
“This year, the press has talked a lot about the death of policemen in Rio, but it is actually a national trend. The number of agents killed has increased by 17.5 percent over one year in all of Brazil,” said Samira Bueno, the Forum’s executive director.
The Forum pointed out that the increase comes amid a drop in the government’s security budget.
“Our public security policy dates back to the 19th century, and has even worsened since then,” said Elisandro Lincoln, a police representative with the Forum.
Bueno said the absence of an integrated national system for crime statistics meant that the 2016 figures could only be presented at the end of October, and that, according to preliminary data, 2017 was shaping up to be even worse.