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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – In the last five years there have been more violent deaths in Brazil than war-torn Syria, according to the Brazilian Forum on Public Security. The data from the Forum’s 10th yearbook, shows that close to 279,000 people died from violent deaths in the country from 2011 to 2015, while in the Middle Eastern country, according to United Nations’ data, a little over 256,000 lives were lost due to violence.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Protesters place coffins to symbolize violent deaths which occurred in 2015 in Rio on Copacabana Beach
Protesters place coffins to symbolize violent deaths which occurred in 2015 in Rio on Copacabana Beach, photo by Vladimir Platonow/Agencia Brasil.

“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 Forum’s CEO, Renato Sérgio de Lima told government news sources. “We think that it is a minor problem. We persistently show that we do not take security as a national priority,” added the executive.

The report shows that in 2015 one Brazilian was violently killed every nine minutes in the country, totaling the number of violent deaths to over 58,000.

Of the over 58,000 violent deaths recorded in Brazil last year a vast majority (52,570) was caused by homicides while deaths as a consequence of police intervention totaled 3,345 and in the commission of a robbery totaled 2,307.

The yearbook also reports Sergipe as the state with the greatest proportion of violent deaths per inhabitant, followed by Alagoas and Rio Grande do Norte. Despite the amply reported violent deaths in São Paulo, the state appears in the report as having one of the lowest rates of violent deaths per one thousand inhabitants, along with the states of Santa Catarina and Roraima.

At the same times though, São Paulo is among the top ranked when in comes to violent deaths due to police intervention. In absolute numbers the number of people killed by police in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro alone make up 45 percent of the total registered for the category.

Police–related deaths are one of the main concerns of Forum executives. “Our police fatality rate is higher than that of Honduras, which is considered the most violent country (in proportional terms), in the world,” says Lima. “This is a problem that remains very serious in the country and is not subject specifically to the size of this new reality, whether the terrorism law or other issues. But we have a very acute problem of police work pattern.”

Brazil, Brasilia,Brazil's President Michel Temer talks to reporters about public security on Thursday
Brazil’s President Michel Temer talks to reporters about public security on Thursday, photo by Valter Campanato/Agência Brasil.

The data, however, shows that if on the one hand police in Brazil kill a high number of civilians, they themselves are also often the victims of violent death. The yearbook shows that in 2015 393 police officers (both on and out-of-duty) were killed in Brazil.

“More than double the number of police officers are killed in Brazil than in the U.S. every year,” Lima said during an interview to CBN radio on Friday morning.

The release of the report by the Forum on Public Security comes just as high-ranking Brazilian government officials meet to discuss solutions for public security. On Friday President Michel Temer scheduled a meeting with Supreme Chief Justice Carmen Lucia Rocha; Justice Minister, Alexandre de Moraes; Senate President, Renan Calheiros; Speaker of the House, Rodrigo Maia; Defense Minister Raul Jungmann; and Institutional Security Chief Sergio Etchegoyen to discuss public security.

“It will be a very significant moment, because the meeting of the three branches of the State and other agencies will discuss together how to solve the country’s public security of the country,” said Temer during a news conference on Thursday. “It is a distressing issue for the Brazilian people, and that is why we all have to collaborate,” he added.

The Brazilian Yearbook of Public Security, currently in its 10th edition, will be released on November 3rd.

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