By Jaylan Boyle, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Last week saw the launch of the ‘Fim da Linha’ (End of the Line) initiative by the federal government. The program is designed to combat both the reputation and reality Brazil has for being a haven for international criminals seeking refuge from the law of their home countries. The areas of sex tourism, child pornography, and drug trafficking will be given particular attention.
The primary goal of the project is to connect Brazil’s security institutions with an international private internet-based network called the I-24/7, which will link concerned agencies with those of 187 countries worldwide.
The battle to stop criminals, prospective or actual, entering Brazil will be waged at its front line by border and customs staff. An equally important aspect of the program is the effort to combat the perception that Brazil, among other South American nations perhaps thought of as ‘lax’ in their policing standards, is a country where anonymity is easily achieved.
Another prevailing assumption held by many westerners is that Brazil has neither the power nor the inclination to extradite international criminals. When launching the Fim da Linha initiative, Justice Minister Tarso Genro said that the plan is to reinforce the idea, which corresponds in his opinion to the reality, that Brazil is not a country in which criminals are embraced with “open arms”.
Police Chief Jorge Pontes, head of Interpol in Brazil, has said that in six months’ time the Federal Police will have unlimited access to international databases. “It is essential [for there to be] rapid communication between lnterpol countries,” Mr. Pontes said.
Another aim of the Fim da Linha initiative is to create a ‘Red List’ of international sex offenders and child pornographers, as well as a map of organizations involved in child pornography. Publicity for the project is to take the form of posters illustrated by the celebrated Brazilian cartoonist Ziraldo, to be hung in airports and other border posts throughout the country.
The newspaper Estado de São Paulo has reported that during the 90s alone, at least sixty western films featured a storyline where the master criminal escaped to Brazil, or was seen to be smugly holding plane tickets to the country. The casting of Brazil in this role stretches as far back as 1946 with the Alfred Hitchcock thriller ‘Notorious’.
Celebrity criminals such as ‘Great Train Robber’ Ronnie Biggs and highly publicized former Nazis who evaded justice in Brazil have also played a part in heightening this perception, perhaps deserved to a certain extent in years past.
The BBC notes that while this is not the first time Brazilian authorities have attempted to tackle the issue, they appear to be approaching the problem with previously unseen vigor and determination.