By Lisa Flueckiger, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio’s Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão has appeared in front of the National Congress in Brasília arguing in defense of a new law criminalizing the carrying of ‘white weapons’, such as knives. The law pending in the federal legislative since 2004 would punish carrying a knife or any cutting object in a public place with fines and jail time of between three months and one year.
Pezão met with congressional leader Eduardo Cunha on Wednesday, May 27th and not only pushed for the white weapons law to go through, but also asked for more severe penalties for heinous crimes.
“President [of the Chamber of Deputies] Eduardo Cunha will put the issue on the agenda, I believe, as soon as June 10th. The criminalization of the possession of white weapons will not solve the problem definitively, but it gives us time to breathe. It is important to penalize those who commit this type of crime. The Congress is the appropriate forum for this discussion,” Pezão stated.
“I am appealing to our society to discuss the laws we have today that allow that people not even pass one day in jail, after committing an act like the one that has been committed in Rio,” the Govenor added, referring to the case where a cyclist was stabbed and died at Rio’s Lagoa.
However, the Governor reiterated that he was against the reduction of the criminal responsibility to sixteen years, which is currently being discussed in Brazilian lawmaking as well. He said, “I am not in favor of reducing the legal age only to reduce it. But, yes I am in favor of stricter penalties for those who commit heinous crimes. We need stricter laws, tougher ones and the National Congress is the right house to discuss this.”
“Rio’s Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame has been in Congress at least eight times since last April, proposing several changes to the criminal law. All [of which were] elaborated jointly by the security secretaries in the Southeast. I and the other governors of the Southeast have we met a few times with Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo, to advance this agenda,” Pezão explained.
Yet, even though several cases of stabbings and bystanders hit by stray bullets made the news in the past weeks, crime numbers all fell considerably in April 2015 compared with April 2014. Intentional homicides have decreased by 24.7 percent, while robberies of pedestrians decreased 17.1 percent.
On the other hand, police have apprehended fifteen percent more weapons and 4.2 percent more drugs, while 62 percent more adolescents were taken into custody.