quarta-feira, 28 de março de 2012

2011: countries with death penalty killed 676; Police of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo killed 961

Countries with death penalty executed 676 people worldwide in 2011. 
Police of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil, killed 961 in the same period. 

Raphael Prado
From New York, USA

Amnesty International Report released on
Tuesday (27) (Photo: Amnesty International)
Amnesty International Report released on Tuesday (27) shows that 20 countries around the world executed 676 people in 2011. This number, although still far from the dreamed "world free of the death penalty" preached by the organization, shows an improvement compared to previous years. In 2002, 31 countries practiced capital punishment on prisoners. According to Amnesty, also 18,750 people are still in the line of the death penalty.

In Brazil, unlike the countries that Amnesty International monitors, capital punishment does not exist legally. But state officials are responsible for high mortality rates in supposed confrontations with criminals, so-called "proceedings against resistance."

In 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, 524 people were killed by military police throughout the state, according to the Institute of Public Security, a government agency in Rio de Janeiro. In Sao Paulo, in the same period, there were 437 deaths, according to Department of Public Security. These statistics show that in the two most populous states in Brazil, 961 deaths were committed by government agents in 2011 - 42.16% more than victims of the death penalty in all countries surveyed by Amnesty International. The organization did not have access to numbers from China, which refuses to pass data and, according to the institution, can double the number of executions and therefore possibly reach the number of deaths by military police in Rio and Sao Paulo, only two Brazilian states.

Violent troop
In the first semester of 2011, one in five people killed in the capital of Sao Paulo state was killed by police. It means that 128 records, of 629 homicides committed in the city, were registered as "people killed in clashes with the military police on duty." This kind of occurrence is an indicative of confrontation against criminals during Police action.

Throughout the state of Sao Paulo, in 2011, Department of Public Security registered 4,396 victims of murder. Police have killed 437 other people - which results in a ratio of one killed by Police in every 11.05 murder victims in the state. This index makes police of Sao Paulo one of the most violent forces in the world.

Data from Department of Justice of the United States in 2009 - the latest available - show that American police was responsible for 406 of 14,042 deaths recorded that year in the country - which results in police's fatality rate of one murder for every 34.58 occurring in the country.

"In Sao Paulo, the death sentence happens under daylight," says state Representative Adriano Diogo, chairman of Human Rights Commission of Legislative Assembly of Sao Paulo. "This practice is fully institutionalized. It is part of a routine. This 'resistance followed by death' is not even investigated, and it happens every day," added Diogo.

In a statement, Police of Sao Paulo says that "we can not compare legal executions with police action. Police still clarifies that, in last decade, the rate of homicides in Sao Paulo decreased more than 80%."

"Criminalization of poverty" 
In Rio de Janeiro, Department of Public Security recorded 4,280 homicides in 2011. The 534 records of "resistance followed by death" reveal a fatality rate of one in every 9.17 for each murder victim in the state.

In Argentina, in 2007 - also the latest data available - according to Center for Legal and Social Studies, the metropolitan area of Buenos Aires (which had at that time a population of 12 million) recorded 79 cases of people killed in a clash with police. In the same 2007, only in the state capital of Sao Paulo - excluding other cities of the metropolitan area - police reported 203 deaths "in conflict." Eleven million inhabitants live in the city of Sao Paulo.

"It's an unacceptable number, even if some cases had happened during a confrontation," says state Representative Marcelo Freixo, chairman of Human Rights Commission of Legislative Assembly of Rio. "Profile of victims, in any Brazilian city, not only Rio or Sao Paulo, is the same: they are young, poor, black, they have very low education, they are slum dwellers and from the periphery," he adds.

For the congressman, the policy of public security in Brazil is facing a process of "criminalization of poverty." "When we made the transition from dictatorship to democracy, public security policy continued to be grounded in the elimination of the enemy," he explains. "Enemy on that days was the communist, the college student, the journalist who was arrested, tortured and killed. Nowadays, this logic remains in the elimination of the enemy. But now, the enemy is the poor who are outside the market society. We continue to have a security policy grounded in the idea of war," says Freixo, who is a pre-candidate to Rio de Janeiro's mayorship in this year's election.

Department of Public Security of Rio de Janeiro reports that the number of incidents recorded as "proceedings against resistance" has decreased in recent years - from 1,048 cases in 2009 to 855 cases in 2010 and 524 in 2011. According to them, the reduction was due to "Program of Goals and Result Tracking," created by state government. "It is noteworthy that development of this program increases the challenge of the police each semester," said the state board in a statement.

Department also informs: "State government, recognizing the importance of its Program of Goals and Result Tracking to improve public safety, decided that policemen settled for more than six months in areas that hit the targets should get paid bonuses for meeting the results. Thus, all police officers who reached a goal and also had the largest reduction among all earn R$ 3,000 [around US$ 1,500] at the end of the semester. In second place on the same criteria, is entitled to R$ 2,000 [US$ 1,500]. Third-placed to R$ 1,500 [US$ 750]. And all cops and police battalions that have only achieved their goals, are entitled to a bonus of R$ 1,000 [US$ 500]."

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