Rio de Janeiro: Does a firm hand reduce crime?

The recent increases in insecurity in the State of Rio de Janeiro show that militarization is not an effective solution to control organized crime

Rio de Janeiro: Does a firm hand reduce crime?

Leer en español: Río de Janeiro: ¿La mano dura reduce el crimen?

Last Thursday, May 3, as a consequence of police operations in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, exchanges of shootings that caused panic among citizens and tourists, as well as large traffic jams in important arteries, as reported by Fogo Cruzado, the application which records shootings and armed violence. The incident has placed decree No. 9288 in the eye of the hurricane.

Leja em português: Rio de Janeiro: A dureza reduz a criminalidade?

The decree

On February 16, 2018, Michel Temer, the president of Brazil, signed Decree No. 9288, which granted ample power to the armed forces to fight violence throughout the State of Rio de Janeiro, especially in its capital of the same name.

In the ceremony, the president said: "Organized crime has almost taken control of the state of Rio de Janeiro. It is a metastasis that spreads throughout the country". Four days later, the Chamber of Deputies approved the decree with a total of 340 votes in favor and 72 against.

This document allows the federal government to intervene militarily in Rio on matters of public security under the command of General Walter Souza Braga Netto. Likewise, it authorizes military forces to omit any national law that may impede the control of public order, gives power over police forces, the free use of financial, technological and structural resources of the State of Rio that such institution requests.

The criminality

Among the most notorious facts is the murder of the Councilor and Human Rights Defender Marielle Franco on March 14, 2018, who was shot while her car was in motion in a central area of ​​the state capital known as Lapa.

Another of the activities that most affect the perception of safety among Cariocas is the increase of 106.00 cases of theft of pedestrians and vehicles in 2011 to more than 230,000 of these cases at the end of 2017, as reported by the observatory of the intervention of the Cándido Méndes University in its report entitled "Adrift, without a program, without results, and without direction 2018".

These facts, together with the high murder rates of police and civilians in 2017, were one of the reasons why the federal government decided to militarize the State of Rio de Janeiro.

The insecurity

However, the arrival of armed forces in the territory has caused a much more violent response from organized crime and in turn increases the concerns of the Cariocas against their security. 30% of the citizens surveyed by the observatory claim to have been in the middle of a shooting and 90% of them claim to be afraid of dying in a robbery or as the cause of a stray bullet.

The statistics presented in the report expose an increase of 203 shootings after the military intervention in the State of Rio. It is also contrasted that before the implementation of the decree, 262 deaths were reported, compared to two months after the execution of the decree, where 284 deaths have been recorded so far.

This means that in more than two months of military intervention, the Brazilian government is intensifying acts of violence, instead of decreasing the rate of insecurity among the inhabitants of Rio in cases of shootings, death by stray bullets or assassinations.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), "States should limit the use of the armed forces to the control of internal disturbances to the maximum, given that the training they receive is aimed at defeating an enemy militarily, not at the protection and control of civilians. "


Latin American Post | Henry Alonso Galindo Rojas

Translated from "Río de Janeiro: ¿La mano dura reduce el crimen?"

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