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25 per 100,000: Brazil’s Per-Capita Homicide Rate Is Three Times the World Average

Police violence in Brazil Earlier this year, in September, the United Nations released a report on Brazilian arbitrary, summary, or extra-judicial executions, elaborated by the special investigator Philip Alston, who visited Brazil for 11 days in November 2007.

The investigator covered cities in the states of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Pernambuco to examine security politics, police violence, the prison system, the actions of extermination groups, rural violence, and violence against indigenous peoples.

According to the report, approximately 48,000 deaths occur in Brazil each year, making the country's homicide rate one of the highest in the world.

Data from 2006 shows that the homicide rate per capita is much higher than the world-wide average, with 25 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. The world-wide average is 8.8 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, not including deaths related to wars.

The special investigator recommends reforms in the Civil Police, the Military Police, police internal affairs office, medical jurisprudence, ombudsmen, public prosecutor's office, judiciary, and in the prison administration.

"Oftentimes, the members of police forces contribute to the problem of extra-judicial executions instead of helping to resolve it. In part, there exists a major problem of on-duty police using excessive force and practicing extra-judicial executions in illegal and counter-productive efforts to combat crime. But there also exists the problem of out-of-service police who gather to form criminal organizations which also participate in these assassinations."

In accordance with the text, active police are responsible for a significant proportion of the total number of deaths in Brazil. Data from the report reveals that while the official homicide rate in São Paulo decreased in recent years, the number of deaths caused by the police increased, in fact, in the last three years.

In 2007, the active police forces killed one person per day. In Rio de Janeiro, active police forces are responsible for almost 18% of all deaths, killing three people per day.

The report also criticizes "bicos" (odd jobs) practiced by police: "It is a fact known to the highest levels of the government, the police, and the police commanders, that the prohibited practice of having a second job – mainly as security – is fairly widespread. However, while efforts are made in Pernambuco, it was clear to me that in São Paulo and in Rio de Janeiro, nothing is being done to deal with this problem."

On the issue of militias, the investigator affirmed that "for the residents, life under the dominion of a militia is, oftentimes, as violent and insecure as it is to live under the dominion of a drug faction. The militias execute extra-judicially those suspected of being traffickers to force their withdrawal from the area, they execute those suspected of other crimes, they intimidate the residents and threaten and kill those who speak against the militia or those who are considered allied with other groups who are vying for control."

In relation to the death squads (esquadrões da morte), Alston says that these extermination groups are formed by police and others with the objective of killing, mainly for financial gain. "Such groups sometimes justify their actions as an illegal tool of 'combating crime'. In cases where the groups are being contracted for money, the contractors sometimes integrate other criminal organizations, such as traffickers or corrupt politicians who feel threatened and are looking to dominate that threat, gain advantages over the other rival group, or to take revenge."

According to the report, data from the Public Ministry of Pernambuco indicates that approximately 70% of the assassinations in Pernambuco are carried out by death squads.

"One CPI (Parliamentary Inquiry Commission) of the national congress found that the majority of extermination groups are made up of government agents (police and prison agents) and that 80% of the crimes committed by these extermination groups involve police or ex-police," it added.

In conclusion, the UN investigator made a series of recommendations to the Brazilian public powers on policing strategies, involvement of police in organized crime, police accountability, expert evidence, witness protection, attorney generals, the judicial structure, and the prison system.

On the issue of the prison system, the report advises that the government take measures which end the control of factions in the penitentiaries, eliminating cell phones, and decreasing overcrowding.



  • Show Comments (18)

  • MALU

    O Brasil Àƒ©um pais de grandes desigualdades socio-economicas, corrupÀƒ§Àƒ£o, etc, etc…. SÀƒ³ que o Brasil tambÀƒ©m Àƒ© sol o ano inteiro, friozinho no Sul, belezas naturais incomparÀƒ¡veis, celeiro do mundo, Amazonia, Pantanal, musica, literatura, calor humano indiscutÀƒ­vel, alegria, beleza, alegria, alegria alegria , sempre…. Gringos! Parem jÀƒ¡ de falar desse gigante maravilhoso e por enquanto, somente por enquanto, adormecido.


    would have to start at the top
    and clean up goverment , and walk your way down the halls to the street vendor .
    coulmbia started it 8 years ago and now they like it so much people are turning in
    crooked people from police to business men and politicans ,
    and they are going to jail .

    chc to a brasilian any one not a brasilian is a gringo

  • ahmad

    Trust me who ever suggested sanctions agains t brazil will not solve the problem it will make it worse brazil is a new democracy and when a country first becomes a democracy all kinds of problems occur just look at britain 400 years it was worse than brazil now and it took over a 250 years to get it up to standard and the US they had worse security than brazil but now look at them and even newzealnd when it first got it’s independence and became a democracy it was considered one of the most dangerous spots on earth now it is one of the safes all I would suggest would be for people to be more aware when they vote and for the international community to help the brazillian government regain control of it’s streets

  • bo

    [quote]I lived in Brazil in 2007 and 2008 and I know many local business leaders – everybody agrees that education is the only thing that is missing in Brazil to be a great country.[/quote]

    A whole two years huh? Impressive. 😉

    And you said a mouthful concerning education. And along with having a low level of education come an array of other problems. It’s like having AIDS. One doesn’t actually die from AIDS, he dies from all the other diseases and health problems he has because of AIDS.

    And I venture to say, that even, one day, after we’re all long dead and gone, if the majority of brazilians have a high level of good education, it’s still going to be one helluva task in turning these people honest. When ChC says that ” lieing, cheating, stealing….it’s in their genes”, well, he is exagerrating. But I know what he means, and so do most that know brazil and brazilians. “Jeitinho”, ” Amizade”, and the like, are so engrained in Brazilian life that it could be thousands of years and they still be significant problems even though the masses became educated.

  • forrest allen brown


    or the cop with the hand out
    the judge with the hand out
    the sentor with the hand out

    in the rest of the world crime does not pay
    in brasil you pay money for the crime to clear yourself

    even the ploice ferdal just the pay out is higher

    the brasilian people put up with it
    of corse they do as they have never been taught
    to know better

  • ..

    [quote]Double Dot…..I may know you too [/quote]

    Esteemed Observer, old friends never forget each other. 😀 😉

  • João da Silva

    [quote]I lived in Brazil in 2007 and 2008 and I know many local business leaders – everybody agrees that education is the only thing that is missing in Brazil to be a great country.[/quote]

    Did those “local business leaders” discuss with you as how to locate the “missing” education ?

  • Kristian

    I agree with Will Matias
    Ch. c is so emotional and has no logic sometimes in his arguments – only teenagers act like that. Yes, Ch. c you are right about the facts sometimes, but you use them as you want and it is ALWAYS negative towards Brazil. I lived in Brazil in 2007 and 2008 and I know many local business leaders – everybody agrees that education is the only thing that is missing in Brazil to be a great country. I always look at a country or o company or a person as a produdct of its progress, history. If you study it you understand why you have these problems. To complain about them is immature. So Ch. c – I hope to see more constructive comments and less emotions. 8)

  • Will Matias

    You know buddy, you have great ideas. I’ve always read your comments and always done the happy dance, because you get the elements of what it would take to change Brazil. I, myself, am a Brazilian, living abroad in the States. Of course, as any other sane individual in this website, disagree with the way you go about sharing your ideas. It doesn’t hurt me as much as it concerns me, that you overgeneralize Brazilians as crooks, shady people, and incapable of ever doing something right. I don’t know if you mean the Brazilian government, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. It saddens me to confirm that people like you, from such developed (and perfect, I daresay) countries such as Switzerland think themselves above the Brazilian people. Yes, Brazil has endless socio-economical problems, but I think a little unfair for you to sink the population to such a low level. The country is growing at a reasonable rate, and it is obvious that not every problem can be solved at once. We would all like to see Rocinha gone from the beautiful skyline of Rio, but you don’t presume we’ll drop a bomb on it to achieve it, do you? Money is scarce, government is corrupt, and the people uneducated. You should consider all those when trashing Brazil from your Swiss high horse. I hope you improve your rhetoric and ideals, as those are the only things keeping you from being a great politician.
    My regards,

    Will Matias

  • ch.c.

    it’s because you’re a GRINGO
    Sorry but…..I am Swiss !!!!

    😉 😉

  • bo

    [quote]written by ch.c., December 25, 2008
    Wellllll….and when I say it, I am the one ranting against Brazil !

    Haven’t you learned yet Ch.C? It’s not because you’re saying negative things about Brazil…..it’s because you’re a GRINGO and saying negative things about Brazil!! Haven’t you learned that ONLY Brazilians have the right to be critical about Brazil? We gringos best stick to commenting on the weather in the northeast, fruits, and the beautiful women. Anything beyond that and you’ll soon find yourself being critical of the place!! And if a gringo does that he’ll be accused of being either a RACIST or a gringo that’s planning on invading Brazil and taking over the Amazon!! 😀

    [quote]written by sam adams, December 26, 2008
    …give the death squades a chance[/quote]

    great quote, just goes to show ya what kind of reality exists in this crazy place.

  • sam adams

    well they shoot hourses dont they damn it
    culling is just something you do when you manage livestock. and you have to be fair brazil got a lot of little more than millions of live stock running around wild. inorder to control any heard, inorder to make it healthy you have to kill the sick animals and inorder to control the heard you need to eliminate the degernate leader types that do the whole heard no good, in fact they sicken the heard. Now there are lots of ways to do this, but the problem has gotten so large, that well slected bullets offer the least cost to the society at large thus benefiting programs for food banks and clinics. Call it animal husbandry, but death squades is a bit harsh. Its not as though its not for the good of the community. the Police are judge enough who to summerily execute, they know who the problems are and the desired affect of any action. the courts apparently serve no utile purpose and only confuse and exasserbate the problem as the consequence of court action is to increase crime and brutality rather than damp it. give the death squades a chance, fund then give them office of intelligent gathering then public executions. crucifiction worked well for the romans and they controlled through state fear. it worked for them it will work for rio. give PAX a chance.

  • observer

    Double Dot…..I may know you too

    Happy X-mas 🙂 🙂

  • ch.c.

    To Zap and Observer
    – good to read your “again” while you are new. Welcome anyway ! Feel free to disagree with me at times or all the times.
    This is what democracy is.
    – on your ” any foreign investers who actually invest money in this system are blind fools, for who can trust the “records” is only half true. Just accumulate your investments there when they have shoot hard…in their own rear !
    Everything can then be bought for a loaf of bread !
    Dont forget that Brazil remains a BOOM AND BUST ECONOMY ! Are they better prepared than previous cycles. YESSS !
    But….but…but BETTER doesnt mean WELL PREPARED ! Meaning dont expect the same HIGH SWINGS in their future cycles, such as cutting 3 zeroes out of their currency here or there as they did 4 times in the last 70 years or so, or as they did TWICE in only ONE DECADE !
    But…but…still expect some NICE SWINGS, notably in their monkey currency, for which they have to pay the World Highest Interests Rates…after inflation, but such crazy rates still NOT high enough to avoid large currency declines whenever they get only a small cold flue !

    You are right. It is even more funny when the RJ city tourism director, city mayor and state governor said “Rio is as safe as any large city in the World”
    Dont forget my motto about Brazilians : they always cheat, lie and hide one way or the other. Until today no one has ever been able to prove me wrong.
    And while in most emerging nations homicides rates are going down over the years, of course in Brazil they doubled their growth rate over the last 20 years or so !

    And last but not least, Robbing Hook, the defender of the riches, is doing absolutely nothing against the Deaths Squads “groups formed by police and others with the objective of killing, mainly for financial gain. ” but let me add…ALSO KILLING INNOCENTS CHILDREN…JUST TO CLEAN THE STREETS OF PETTY THIEVES !!!!!

    Because for financial gain, many Brazilians are ready to kill someone for very little money ! Ater all killing a several thousands annually is nothing….in a country with a population of 190 millions.
    Around 2 years ago a Deaths Squads group was arrested in Recife ? They killed for as little as US$ 500.- up to US$ 2500.- !
    Where does the Brazilian Justice stand today…against these criminals ?
    Was there a judgment ? Jails terms ? How long ? NOTHING PUBLISHED…OF COURSE !!!!! Files lost or they found some illegitimate procedures in the investigations or procedures.
    No doubt they rejoined their police station jobs…FREE AND INNOCENTS….and again members of another Death Squad !

    Brazil is as I said, a shame to humanity. We should boycott them, ban their exports, until they change for the better—IN WRITING AND WITH ACCOUNTABILITY PROCEDURES !

  • ..

    [quote]Over 9000 homicides in Rio alone in the past 2 years!! Where is Lula on this?? He keeps harping about no recession in Brazil and paying no attention to this calamity[/quote]

    Mr.Observer, you will never ever be a 007. You are leaving soo much trail behind that even a “Vira Lata” will be able to sniff you out. Regardless , a Merry X-mas to ya. 😉 😀 😉 🙂

  • observer

    Over 9000 homicides in Rio alone in the past 2 years!! Where is Lula on this?? He keeps harping about no recession in Brazil and paying no attention to this calamity

  • Zap

    Hi ch.c
    Again, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head — but behind it all, and I mean ALL, lies greed leading to corruption leading to cover-ups which often involve assassinations and “disappearances” … it’s so sad, truly … a country with such promise … and anyone from in-country investors to any foreign investers who actually invest money in this system are blind fools, for who can trust the “records” and accounting practices of ANY business or government office in light of such rampant corrupcao? … it is insidious to all parts of the system, from illegal logging in the Amazon to paying a small (or larger) “jeito” to insure that a change of address is filed appropriately … it’s because I love so many Brasilians that I feel so sad for the country and it’s citizens …

  • ch.c.

    making the country’s homicide rate one of the highest in the world.
    Wellllll….and when I say it, I am the one ranting against Brazil !

    Except that everything I say has a proven source !

    Looks like that in Brazil the one saying the truth is the bad guy, the ranter, the one to be fired, the one to be censored and also the one to get threaths…of death !
    And of course the ones cheating, lying and hiding are the good guys….such as Lula and his gang !!!!! the ones you applaude, the one you venere, the one you elect a nd beg for more of the same.
    Their promises is what satisfy your egos, feeds your certainty of doing good.
    But again, the proven facts are that their promises are never delivered !

    Did you know that 50 % of your youths deaths, aged 15 – 24, are from VIOLENT DEATHS ?????
    Did you know that based upon your GDP per capita, Brazil has by far the World Highest Poverty Rate ?????
    Did you know that most countries on earth, Poorer than Brazil, have a much higher rate of Paved Roads ????
    Did you know that most countries on earth, Poorer than Brazil, have a much better education system ??????

    Wellll…you elected your mayors, your leaders and your President !
    Brazilians are certainly not winners but losers. Just re-read the above stats that are only a small part of your National Pride !
    I can give you many other stats of why your National Pride should not be as high as it is !!!!!

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