SAO PAULO - A leading rightist presidential candidate blamed the left on Tuesday for Brazil's rise in crime as he promised to give further protection to one of the most lethal police forces in the world.
Legislator Jair Bolsonaro, who is running second in polls on the October election, published a platform of generic suggestions for the economy, education and health care. But he also loaded it with criticism of human rights groups and left-leaning politicians, accusing them of permissiveness that he says has fueled the rise in violence and drug use.
Bolsonaro registered the plan at Brazil's top electoral court in Brasilia, saying that "policemen need to be sure they will be protected by a judicial backbone in the exercise of their professional activities.''
He calls for an extension of the right of self-defense, which human rights groups see as an authorization for police to kill without prosecution when they commit excesses.
A report released last week counted an average of 14 deaths a day at the hands of Brazilian police officers last year, which it said was a 20 percent increase over 2016.
Overall, a record 63,880 people were slain in Brazil in 2017, the report said. The South American country is the world leader in overall homicide numbers, and now its per capita homicide rate is one of the highest.
In a crowded presidential field, Bolsonaro trails only jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in opinion polls, but the popular ex-leader is expected to be barred from the ballot by Brazil's electoral justice.
Bolsonaro released his platform on the same day that he faced questions about using government funds to pay for the upkeep of a vacation home.
He denied wrongdoing in payments to Walderice Conceicao dos Santos, listed by his office as a secretary.
The newspaper Folha de S. Paulo reported Tuesday that dos Santos had been fired following news reports that she actually worked selling acai in Angra dos Reis, about 105 miles (170 kilometers) southwest of Rio.
Bolsonaro told the newspaper that she helped take care of his vacation home near Angra dos Reis.
The congressman's office said that he had no further comment.