Brazil’s Ministry of Justice documented a 20-percent drop in homicides since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January, the nation’s O Globo reported Sunday.
According to official data released by the ministry, there were 13,142 reported homicides from January to April this year, compared to 16,670 during the same period in 2018. It is now the second consecutive year that the overall murder rate has fallen. The year 2017 was the country’s most violent in recent memory with around 60,000 homicides amid brutal warfare between rival drug cartels and criminal gangs.
Improvements were also found in indicators of nine other types of crime tracked by government agencies, with sizable falls in cases of rape, vehicle theft, grievous bodily harm, and armed robberies.
Commenting on the figures, the executive director of the anti-violent crime organization Sou da Paz (“I Come in Peace”), Ivan Contente Marques, said the results were part of a wider positive trend.
“We have seen a reduction in crime rates from last year,” he told Agência Brasil. “Other indicators such as the Atlas of Violence, Ipea, and the Brazilian Public Security Forum already pointed to this downward trend in the main indicators of violence, but we know that there is still a huge difficulty in obtaining reliable data.”
Marques also argued that the federal government must effectively obtain and disseminate the data in order to track necessary progress.
“We are watching with great hope and joy how the government is increasingly assuming the role of regularly disseminating public safety information,” he continued, saying:
We know how problematic it is to construct indicators through bulletins of occurrence. Hence the importance that all federative units are integrated with the Ministry of Justice. That all police occurrences recorded in the police stations of the 27 federation units be systematized. This will be an evolution.
Such figures present a positive step forward for President Jair Bolsonaro, currently facing increasing international scrutiny and criticism over his response to the fires taking place throughout the Amazon Rainforest. During last year’s presidential campaign, the 63-year-old former army captain ran on a promise to radically reduce crime and improve public security by providing greater authorities to the police and the military.
Bolsonaro himself was prominently the victim of violent crime while campaigning for the presidency last year, nearly fatally stabbed by a left-wing activist during a public rally in the city of Juiz de Fora near Rio de Janeiro. After spending a month in the hospital, he was eventually allowed to return home but could not return to the campaign trail and needed multiple surgeries to prevent further injury.
The Brazilian daily O Globo notes that there are a number of factors behind the downward trend, such as increased investment in public security, new law enforcement technologies, as well as various accommodations made between rival criminal gangs.