Crime & Justice

Brazil’s Lula touts better public services to reduce crime

Brasilia, Mar 15 (EFE).- President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva announced Wednesday the relaunch of an initiative from his previous 2003-2011 tenure as Brazil’s head of state that aims to address crime by improving public services in poor, neglected areas.

“Society is not only needing more police, but also more state to intervene in the quality of education, transportation, and health,” he said during a ceremony to present the second National Program of Public Safety with Citizenship (Pronasci II).

The announcement comes a day after a score of cities in the northeastern coastal state of Rio Grande do Norte experienced shootings and arson attacks blamed on organized crime.

Lula’s rightist predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro, criticized efforts to rein-in Brazil’s notoriously trigger-happy police while rolling back gun control and advocating vigilantism.

In many neighborhoods on the outskirts of cities, “the state is only present” in the form of police whose approach consists of solving problems “in the most brutal possible way,” Lula said.

A woman is murdered in Brazil every six hours and Pronasci II will include a special focus on gender violence, with support for victims, as part of the push “to change the face of public safety” in marginalized areas.

To improve policing, law enforcement personnel will receive stipends of 900 ($170) a month to attend training courses approved by the Justice Ministry.

“Public safety is social, not just law and order,” Justice Minister Flavio Dino said during the ceremony.

“We need to change the role of the Brazilian state so we can save more lives in this country,” Lula said. EFE cms/dr

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