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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 August 2007, 01:32 GMT 02:32 UK
Brazil unveils strategy on crime
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Soldiers and passers-by in Alemao shantytown in Rio de Janeiro
Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world
Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has announced a plan costing over $3bn (1.5bn) to tackle the high levels of crime in the country's cities.

The plan will focus on improving the quality of policing and social programmes and education.

It also provides funds for building more prisons to tackle overcrowding.

Viva Rio, an organisation which works to combat violence in Rio de Janeiro, has given a cautious welcome to the government's proposals.

"This is the right path, for sure," said Viva Rio's director Rubem Cesar Fernandes.

But he added a note of caution: "The question is whether they can actually implement it."

Prisons and education

Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world and the government has now signalled its determination to try to reduce this grim total of around 45,000 people killed each year.

View of the Alemao shanty town
Shantytown residents have long felt neglected by the state

President Lula said the plan was "not enough to compensate for centuries of inequality that gave rise to violence".

But he said it would "treat urban violence with the firm hand of the state".

Money will be spent on improving the quality of policing while at the same time boosting social programmes and education.

More than 400,000 young people, including former convicts, will receive job training and financial aid.

Brazil's prisons suffer from chronic overcrowding and as part of the plan160 new ones will be built with special facilities to provide jobs and education.

The proposals also aim to confront some of the problems faced by poorly paid police officers who have in the past often been accused of corruption. Grants are to be made available for training and housing aimed at officers working in the most violent areas.

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