Five killed daily in clashes with police in Brazil

Five killed daily in clashes with police in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Five people were killed on average daily in clashes with police in Brazil last year, according to a survey cited by the daily O Globo Sunday.

The report from the Brazilian Forum on Public Security found that 1,890 people in 23 Brazilian states were killed in such circumstances in 2012, including 1,322 just in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bahia.

This compares with the deaths of 89 civilian and military police in the line of duty nationwide during the same period, or one police officer for every 21 civilians killed in police clashes, it noted.

"In the United States, with a population 60 percent bigger than that of Brazil, 410 people were killed in a confrontation with police in 2012," according to the report.

The Forum, a network of experts and police officers working on improving policing standards and security policy, argues that while all democratic countries have strong police forces, having these "means following operational standards and protocols and having oversight mechanisms to monitor them."

It blamed the high fatalities on a variety of factors, including police forces beset by "a culture of violence" and nonexistent controls.

Sao Paulo, Brazil's most populous state, recorded the highest number of deaths in clashes with police -- 563 last year.

Yet the mere replacement of Sao Paulo state security chief led to a 64 percent drop in the number of such fatalities from January to May this year compared with the same period last year, the survey said.

"In Sao Paulo, around 20 percent of homicides are committed by the police ... What is the most appropriate policing standard to reduce this?" Renato Sergio de Lima, secretary general of the Forum, noted in a recent interview.

"It is very, very complicated, because Brazil is a very violent country. We have around 50,000 homicides per year, which translates into 22 to 23 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants," he added.

The Forum's report is part of the 7th edition of its Yearbook on Public Security which will be released Tuesday.

In July, a report published by the Latin American Studies Center said more than one million people were murdered in Brazil between 1980 and 2011, making it the world's seventh most violent country.