Bolsonaro unveils bill to protect police, soldiers

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (AFP file photo)

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday sent a proposal to Congress that seeks to offer greater protection to police and soldiers who kill while on specific operations, known as Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO) missions.

The highly divisive bill, which comes amid a sharp rise in killings by police across Brazil, is likely to face stiff opposition from some lawmakers and human rights groups.

It would reduce sentences, or even provide full judicial protection to officers who kill in situations in which they face "unfair, current or imminent aggression," either to themselves or another person. Examples of "unfair aggression" would include terrorism, and any "conduct capable of causing death or personal injury," such as carrying a firearm.

The bill is similar to part of an earlier, broader crime-fighting proposal, pushed by Justice Minister Sergio Moro, that also sought to offer greater protection to officers who kill.

Nonetheless, Moro's proposal is currently languishing in Congress, where lawmakers stripped the section offering police more cover, arguing that it could incentivize them to kill more.

Speaking about his proposal on Thursday, Bolsonaro said it would represent a "shift" in the fight against violence in Brazil.

"We will now depend on lawmakers, congressmen and senators to approve this," the far-right president said in Brasilia.

GLO missions are temporary military operations, created by direct order of the president, to tackle sporadic cases of uncontrollable violence or high-risk situations, such as international summits.

So far this year, Brazil has used GLO missions to provide security at the BRICs Summit in Brasilia, in the fight against Amazon rainforest fires, and in the transfer of high-risk prisoners to federal prisons.

Bolsonaro, a longtime advocate of preemptive police violence, has said that he would consider ending GLOs if lawmakers do not pass his bill.

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