By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In 2014, on average six people died each day in Brazil through involvement of the military police, totaling in 2,368 deaths in 22 states according to data collected by G1 from the Secretaries of Public Security. The states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro lead the statistics with the most deaths.
São Paulo saw 695 people die in actions by its military police, while Rio de Janeiro state was not far behind with 582 deaths. The two states were followed, with significantly lower numbers, by Bahia (256), Paraná (178) and Pará (159). In the first trimester of 2015, São Paulo already registered the highest number of deaths by the military police for the last twelve years with 185 cases.
However, if calculated per inhabitant, Rio de Janeiro leads the list of states by far with 3.54 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, while São Paulo only registered 1.58 per 100,000 people.
The states of Minas Gerais and Rondônia didn’t collect any data of deaths through the military police, while Distrito Federal and Mato Grosso do Sul refused to answer a questionnaire about their data. Goiás didn’t see the necessity of this kind of data. “We see no need to disclose the data. Why do you need it? The statistics you need about public safety are on the website,” Lieutenant Colonel Ricardo Mendes, spokesperson of the PM, told G1.
According to the Yearbook on Security in Brazil 1,231 people died in confrontations with the police in 2013, while there were 1,457 deaths in 2012. On the other hand, 132 policemen died in 2014 while working, with Bahia and Mato Grosso registering the most police deaths. In Rio de Janeiro, sixteen military police died in service in 2014.
The prosecutor Marcelo Godoy, executive secretary of the chamber of the federal prosecutors responsible for the control of police activity, sees the attitude of the police as a problem. “In general, we find data on public security to be difficult [to obtain] and imprecise. Regarding deaths through policemen, we face resistance in some cases, for the Federal Prosecutor’s Office to obtain access to data. We need more transparency. There is also another aspect: there may be corporatism.”
“The use of lethal force by the state should be disclosed permanently. Brazil must assume that police lethality is a point that needs to be worked on by the police,” Carolina Ricardo from NGO Sou da Paz added.
In order to approve the missing data, the National Council of the Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched a national register of occurrences including deaths caused by agents of the state, such as military, civil and federal policemen, municipal guards or prison guards with information as to where, when and how it happened.
“In general, the justification from the police is that they fired in self-defense, and their own witnesses are PMs. No organ, not the Public Prosecutor’s Office, can prevent the police to kill, because it might be necessary. But we have to ensure that the facts are determined with technique and expertise to exonerate those who did not act with excessive [force] and even for those who do wrong to be afraid of being punished,” Renato Sérgio de Lima, Vice-President of the Brazilian Forum on Public Safety, welcomed the new investigations.
Just last weekend, Manaus 35 people be killed over the course of three days with the suspicion of possible police involvement. Several of the deaths occurred in a shooting after a police officer had been killed.
Overall, 52,336 people were murdered in Brazil in 2014 according to G1. This number is 3.8 percent higher than in 2013. It means that in 2014, on average 143 people were killed per day or 25.8 deaths were registered per 100,000 inhabitants.