RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazil in 2016 registered a record 61,619 murders, the largest yearly total in the country’s history and an average of 168 per day or 7 per hour, according to figures released Monday by the non-governmental Brazilian Public Safety Forum.
The number of murders in 2016 was up by 3.8 percent over the total the year before, according to the NGO, which has specialized in studies of violence in Brazil relying on official figures compiled by the authorities.
The number of violent deaths last year in Brazil is approximately equal to the number of people killed by the atomic bomb the US dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945, according to the Forum.
“It’s as if Brazil were suffering one atomic bomb attack each year. They are impressive figures that reinforce the need for urgent changes in the public safety policies in Brazil. We cannot live with this level of lethal violence,” said the NGO’s president, Renato Sergio de Lima.
Brazil’s homicide rate last year was 29.9 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the figures, which are included in the Forum’s 11th annual directory.
But that rate varied by region, standing at up to 64 per 100,000 in Sergipe, 56.9 in Rio Grande do Norte and 55.9 in Alagoas, three impoverished states in Brazil’s northeast.
In like manner, some cities have murder rates higher than countries involved in civil wars – such as Aracaju with 66.7 killings per 100,000 residents, Belen with 64 and Porto Alegre with 64.1.
According to the report, one of the indicators that increased from the previous year was the number of civilians killed in police operations, which totaled 4,224 in 2016, a 25.8 percent increase over 2015.
Of the victims killed in police operations, 99.3 percent were men, 81.8 percent were between the ages of 12 and 29 and 76.2 percent were black.
But the number of police officers killed also rose by 17.5 percent to 437, of whom 56 percent were black.
The annual number of reported rapes increased by 3.5 percent to 49,497 in 2016.
Of the 4,657 cases of females murdered last year, just 533 were classified as feminicides.
The number of robberies in which the victim was killed totaled 2,514, up by 57.8 percent compared with 2010.
According to the Forum, an average of about one vehicle is stolen every minute.