Brazil broke its own homicide record in 2017, according to a new report, as killings rose to unprecedented levels due to more violence related to organized crime and the implementation of counterproductive security policies.
Authorities in Brazil recorded 63,880 homicides in 2017, representing a homicide rate of 30.8 per 100,000 individuals and a 2.9 percent increase from 2016, according to a new report from non-profit Brazilian Public Security Forum (Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública).
Almost 30 percent of homicides were concentrated in state capitals. The northern states of Acre, Rio Grande do Norte and Ceará recorded the highest homicide rates in the country, while southern São Paulo and Santa Catarina states and the Federal District in the heart of the country saw the lowest homicide rates.
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The city of Rio Branco in northwestern Acre state recorded the country’s highest homicide rate with 83.7 homicides per 100,000 individuals. Southeastern São Paulo state's homicide rate of just 10.2 per 100,000 was the lowest in the country.
Homicides linked to police interventions also increased by 20 percent in 2017, rising to a rate of 14 deaths per day. On the other hand, the 357 police officers killed in 2017 marked a decrease of almost five percent compared to 2016.
InSight Crime Analysis
Disputes between organized crime groups, heavy-handed security strategies and corruption are some of the driving forces behind the record number of homicides seen in Brazil in 2017.
As InSight Crime reported last year, northern Brazil has been hit especially hard by violence. This is largely due to the end of a truce between Brazil’s two most powerful criminal groups, the First Capital Command (Primer Comando Capital - PCC) and Red Command (Comando Vermelho - CV), which ignited a turf war that first broke out in the country’s prison system before spilling out onto the streets.
However, a new rupture between the Red Command and the Family of the North (Família do Norte – FDN) crime group, located in the Amazon region of northwestern Manaus state, could bring even greater levels of violence to the region as drug trafficking routes into neighboring countries are now up for grabs.
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Gang violence in Brazil has also affected major cities like Rio de Janeiro, where criminals and security forces play a central role in the war-like levels of violence. In particular, the excessive use of force by security forces has caused numerous deaths, and the figures in the most recent study show it as one of the main causes of death.
Beginning in February 2018, Brazil’s armed forces took control of public security in Rio de Janeiro state, which Rio city Mayor Marcelo Crivella says has been accompanied by a “disproportionate use of force."
In addition, Brazil’s economic crisis -- fueled in part by corruption scandals -- has forced security budget cuts. There has been a reduction in public security spending at the municipal level even though spending at the federal level has increased, according to the Brazilian Public Security Forum report.