Rio de Janeiro Homicides Reach 21-Year Low

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In the state of Rio de Janeiro, homicides have fallen to the lowest level since 1991, another indicator of the growing success of Brazil’s “pacification” project.

The Regional Institute of Public Safety reported that Rio de Janeiro’s homicide rate for the first five months of 2012 is the lowest in 21 years. So far, the 2012 rate is at 10.9 homicides per 100,000 residents. Homicides fell to 1,784 — a 8.3 percent drop from last year, when 1,945 people were killed in the first five months.

Authorities attribute the decline to the government’s “pacification” project, which began in 2008 in an attempt to reduce violence in Brazil’s second largest city.

The news comes as Rio prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games.

InSight Crime Analysis

The decline in Rio’s homicides appears to be a sign that pacification is working, along with other recent indicators of the program’s success. On June 28, a Rio neighborhood drug boss surrendered to police, reportedly due to pressures from increased police activity and gang competition in his territory. The boss operated in the northern part of the city, which has the largest concentration of Police Pacification Units (UPPs).

However, the pacification program is not without problems. While a recent report by Human Rights Watch praised the project for cutting down violence overall, it warned of human rights violations by police such as extrajudicial killings.

The application of the pacification program is also unbalanced, resulting in uneven crime rates throughout the city. Terra Brazil noted that neighborhoods with UPPs had lower rates of violent crime than those without. Although the data indicates some level of success for the pacification project, a complete reduction in violence is unlikely until UPPs are more widespread in Rio.

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