Brazil’s prison system faces ‘profound deterioration’ if youth crime law passes

Bruce Douglas – The Guardian, 6/29/2015

Brazil’s justice minister has described his country’s violent and overcrowded prison system as “terrible” and warned that it will only get worse if congress votes this week to lower the age of criminal responsibility.

José Eduardo Cardozo ordered the early publication of a justice ministry report on prison overcrowding ahead of a vote on Tuesday over legislation which would reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 for serious offences involving violence.

The new statistics show that Brazil’s prison population has doubled in the last 10 years and now contains more than 220,000 inmates over its capacity. Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will add up to 40,000 more inmates to the system, Cardozo said.

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Brazil senators flee Venezuela attack

BBC News, 6/19/2015

A group of eight Brazilian senators on a visit to Venezuela to meet a jailed opposition leader say they had to flee after their bus was attacked.

The Brazilian opposition politicians were trying to meet Leopoldo Lopez, who is in jail accused of inciting violence during protests. The group said the bus was stoned as it travelled from Caracas airport.

Brazil’s foreign ministry says it will seek an explanation from the Venezuelan government. One of the senators, Ronaldo Caiado, tweeted: “Our bus was under siege; they were beating and trying to break it. I filmed them throwing stones against the bus.”

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Brazil’s cybercrime free-for-all: many scams and little punishment

Lourdes Garcia-Navarro – NPR, 6/15/2015

Brazil can boast many superlatives: the biggest country in South America, which is home to the the world’s biggest rain forest, which is home to the world’s biggest snake.

And now Brazil can claim to be a world leader in Internet fraud. It may not seem intuitive to associate Brazil with cybercrime, but the country was an early adapter of online banking and that helped create opportunities for online theft.

Most schemes have targeted other Brazilians but now they hit farther afield in places like the United States.

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Brazil divided by debate over teenage crime and punishment

Dom Phillips – Washington Post, 6/14/2015

Last July, Patricia fatally stabbed a female relative of her then-partner in a confrontation, provoked by what she described as continuous, poisonous innuendo. “I couldn’t stand it anymore,” she said. “I took the life of another person.”

She was just 17.

A heated debate over whether teenagers who commit violent crimes can be rehabilitated, or should be tried as adults and ­incarcerated in the country’s packed and dangerous prisons, has split Brazil. High-profile violent crimes involving adolescents have inflamed the issue and polarized opinion around a controversial measure in Congress to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16. A vote is planned this month.

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In Denial Over Racism in Brazil

Vanessa Barbara – The New York Times, 3/23/2015

One Friday night last month, the electricity was off in the streets of Palmeirinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro. Three black teenagers were joking around in front of their houses. One of them started to run and the others followed, laughing. At that moment, the police came out shooting. Chauan Jambre Cezário, 19 years old, was seriously wounded. Alan de Souza Lima, 15 years old, died on the site with a cellphone in his hands — he had caught everything on video, including his own last agonizing minutes.

According to an official report released the next day, the boys were shot after a confrontation with the police. Officers allegedly found two guns at the scene and charged Mr. Cezário with resisting arrest. The boy, who sells iced tea on Ipanema Beach, was carried to the emergency room and handcuffed to the hospital bed.

Days later, the nine-minute cellphone video went public. Images clearly show that the teenagers didn’t have any guns on them and that there was neither confrontation nor resistance. Seconds after the shooting, a policeman asked why they had been running, to which a bleeding Mr. Cezário answered: “We were just playing around, sir.”

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Radio journalist gunned down in Brazil

Committee to Protect Journalists, 3/2/2015

Brazilian authorities should immediately investigate the murder of radio journalist Ivanildo Viana, identify the motive, and bring the killers to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

“Journalists in Brazil have faced a wave of deadly violence in recent years and, in most cases, the killers have gone unpunished,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas senior program coordinator, from New York. “Brazilian authorities must thoroughly investigate this crime and examine all possible motives.”

Unidentified assailants on a motorcycle pursued Viana, who was on his own motorcycle, and shot him several times, news reports said citing police. His body was found on the side of the highway that runs between Santa Rita and João Pessoa, the capital of Paraíba state. None of his belongings, including his motorcycle, were taken, police said.

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Carnival spectacle tainted by violence in Brazil

Chris Wright – Business Insider, 2/15/2015

Tens of thousands of people flooded Rio’s streets Sunday to watch samba dancers in dazzling costumes defy downpours and bare sparkly flesh in a fantasy Brazilians dream of year round.

An estimated crowd of more than 72,000, from great-grandmothers to babes in arms, swayed and cheered on their favorite samba school in hours-long parades in Rio’s annual party to end all parties.

There was thunder, lightning and driving rain pouring on thousands in viewing stands open to the sky. Many wore disposable rain ponchos.

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