Telesur TV reported that the homicide rate in Brazil dropped in 2015 to just over 58,000 – 160 homicides per day. In Syria, in the midst of a vicious civil war, around 55,000 people were killed by violence in the same period, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Brazil is, of course, a much larger country, with a population of 200 million, compared to Syria's around 16 million – although the vast numbers of people displaced by the war make an accurate count difficult. But the report by the Brazilian Forum for Public Security details just how strong the grip of violence remains on South America’s largest country. The homicide rate in 2015 was 28.6 people per 100,000 (the global average in 2012 was 6.2 per 100,000). And 28.6 is an average – in the country’s impoverished northeast, the ratio was even higher, reaching 57 murders per 100,000 in Sergipe, according to the Independent.
"What these numbers show is that we are still facing outstanding levels of violent crime…and Brazil today is the world leader in this regard," Minas Gerais Federal University's coordinator for criminal studies and public safety, Claudio Beato, told Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper on Sunday.
"Putting police in strategic locations and spreading them out intelligently is important. The problem is that there are many places (in Brazil) that are doing absolutely nothing (to lower crime rate), either because they don’t have the ability to do so, don’t have the resources, or the willpower to fight crime," Beato said.
Of course, Brazil's notoriously violent police force was not exempt from this crime wave: police killed 3,345 people in 2015, 6.3% more than in 2014. That's nine per day. Close to 400 officers died in the same period, Telesur TV reported, but only a third of those were on duty when they were killed.
Samira Bueno, executive director of the forum, told Brazilian newspaper O Estado that the jump in police killings "shows us that the Brazilian government encourages the excessive use of lethal force," Forbes reported.
"Police kill a lot, as if they have been given the right to decide who dies and who lives," she said.
The 2016 Global Peace Index ranks Brazil at 105 out of 163 countries in terms of its peacefulness, which it assesses according to a variety of factors that include funding of UN peacekeeping operations and the existence of nuclear and heavy weapons. This ranking places Brazil very close to the US, at 103 place, where the average homicide rate in large cities was 10.8 people per 100,000 (the overall rate was 4.9 per 100,000).
There were 15,696 murders in the US, population 319 million, a figure that represented a sharp increase on the previous year.
CEO of the forum Renato Sérgio de Lima told reporters, "As the world is discussing how to avoid the tragedy that has taken place in Aleppo, in Damascus and several other cities, in Brazil we pretend that the problem does not exist," the Independent reported.
"We think that it is a minor problem. We persistently show that we do not take security as a national priority."