Brazil's record murder rate in 2017 even higher than first thought
The record number of murders in Brazil in 2017 is even higher than previously thought, researchers said Wednesday, warning that President Jair Bolsonaro's order to ease gun laws could fuel the deadly violence.
A staggering 65,602 homicides were recorded for the year, according to the latest figures based on health ministry data -- the equivalent of more than seven murders every hour.
That compares with a previous record of 63,800 that was calculated using mainly police reports.
The overall figure was 36.1 percent higher than a decade earlier, said the government-backed Institute of Applied Economic Research and the non-profit Brazilian Forum for Public Security in a report titled Atlas of Violence.
Most of the victims were young, black men. The number of female victims reached a record 4,936, or more than 13 per day, around two-thirds of them black.
"We are killing our youth," said Daniel Cerqueira of the IPEA.
States in the north and northeast of the country remained the deadliest as rival drug gangs fought for control of new trafficking routes from Bolivia and Peru.
The number of reported murders in the LGBTI population reached 193 in 2017, compared with five in 2011.
Cerqueira warned that Bolsonaro's decree last month permitting millions of "common citizens" to have loaded weapons in public could worsen the violence.
The order increases the number of professions permitted to carry weapons without having to prove why they need them. They include truckers, politicians, hunters and even some journalists.
But it is facing legal and political challenges.
"I hope that the Supreme Court cancels it," Cerqueira said.
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