Homicides Increase in Brazil after 2 Years of Decline

Amid the pandemic, the number of robberies fell, but murders rose 4% in 2020

São Paulo and Salvador

In 2020, Brazilians lived not only with losses to Covid but with a 4% increase in violent deaths, interrupting two years of falling numbers. There were 50,033 victims, in a high led by the states of the Northeast.

The data are from the 15th annual report of the Brazilian Public Security Forum. Intentional violent deaths, according to the report's criteria, are the sum of intentional homicides (83% of the total in the category and which rose 5.3%), robbery, bodily injury followed by death, femicide and deaths resulting from police intervention.

Among the victims, 78% were killed with firearms. In December 2020, Brazil reached the mark of 2,077,126 private legal weapons, 1 for every 100 Brazilians.

The numbers point to an escalation in the access and circulation of private weapons in recent years, after more flexible measures adopted by the Jair Bolsonaro (non-party) government.

Social isolation imposed by the virus resulted in a decrease in property crimes, but it was not able to stop homicides and may have influenced their increase. Unemployment and worsening mental health are hypotheses for the increase in interpersonal crimes.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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