Crime & Justice

Brazil’s Lula presents plan to curb violence

Brasilia, Jul 21 (EFE).- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced Friday a package of measures aimed at improving public safety in Brazil.

He presented the initiative a day after the release of figures showing that while homicides in the giant South American nation fell in 2022 to the lowest level in 11 years, a record number of sexual assaults were reported along with increases in hate crime and fraud.

The program includes a Security and Sovereignty Plan for Amazonia, featuring steps to battle growing violence associated with drug trafficking, illegal mining and logging, and other criminal activities.

“In Amazonia, with 5 million square kilometers (1.9 million sq mi), an area larger than Europe, organized crime is being fomented, drug trafficking and everything that is illicit in Brazil,” Lula said. “We have to act so that violence is not fomented in the Brazilian jungle, which everyone wants to be preserved.”

The center-left president plans to spend 2 billion reais ($416.7 million) on building 33 bases and acquiring vehicles, helicopters, and armored launches for a joint federal-state security task force of roughly 6,000 officers.

Manaus, the largest city in Amazonia, will be the headquarters for an environmental-crimes division of the Federal Police and a Center for International Police Cooperation.

The Brazilian Forum on Public Safety said Thursday that Amazonia, despite being the country’s most sparsely populated region, accounted for more than 8,000 of the 47,500 homicides reported nationwide last year.

While the murder rate for Brazil as a whole was 19 for 100,000 inhabitants, the figure in Amazonia was 26.7 homicides per 100,000, according to the NGO.

Lula also said his government will act to limit the possession and carrying of firearms in light of a doubling in the number of guns in private hands during the 2019-2023 administration of his right-wing predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.

“It is one thing for a citizen to have a gun at home, but we cannot permit arsenals in the hands of individuals. We will continue fighting for a disarmed country. The person who needs to be well-armed is the police officer,” the president said.

The new regulations will reduce the number of firearms a private citizen may own and reinstate previous prohibition on the sale of military-grade guns.

Also part of the package announced Friday are a pair of bills to impose tougher sanctions on people convicted of anti-democratic actions such as the Jan. 8 storming of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the presidential palace by thousands of Bolsonaro supporters who hoped to spur the military to overthrow Lula.

One of the proposals would allow the government to seize assets and freeze bank accounts.

The other would mandate prison terms of up to 20 years for people found guilty of financing attacks on democratic institutions, while anyone convicted of making an attempt on the life of a public official would face the possibility of 40 years behind bars. EFE cm/dr

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