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Latin America has highest rates of intentional homicide, says UNDOC report

Saturday, October 8th 2011 - 08:09 UTC
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In Central America 2% of the 20 year old males will be killed by the age of 31 In Central America 2% of the 20 year old males will be killed by the age of 31

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, has released its first “Global Study on Homicide”, which shows that young men, particularly in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Central and Southern Africa, are at greatest risk of falling victim to intentional homicide.

There is evidence of rising homicide rates in Central America and the Caribbean, which are “near crisis point”, according to the Study.

The report also shows that women are at greatest risk of murder owing to domestic violence.

Firearms are behind rising murder rates in those regions, where almost three quarters of all homicides are committed with guns, compared to 21% in Europe. Men face a much higher risk of violent death (11.9 per 100,000 persons) than women (2.6 per 100,000 persons), although there are variations between countries and regions.

In countries with high murder rates, especially involving firearms, such as in Central America, 2% of males aged 20 will be killed before they reach the age of 31 - a rate several hundred times higher than that in some parts of Asia.

Worldwide, 468,000 homicides occurred in 2010. Some 36% of all homicides take place Africa, 31% in the Americas, 27% in Asia, 5% in Europe and 1% in Oceania.

In Mercosur countries the rates are as follow: Argentina 5.5 per 100.000; Brazil, 22.7; Paraguay, 11.4; Uruguay, 6.1; Chile, 3.7 and some extreme cases in South America: Colombia, 33.4; Mexico, 18.1 and Venezuela, 49. This compares with the US, 5; UK, 1.2 and Spain, 0.9.

The Study also establishes a clear link between crime and development: countries with wide income disparities are four times more likely to be afflicted by violent crime than more equitable societies. Conversely, economic growth seems to stem that tide, as the past 15 years in South America have shown.

High levels of crime are both a major cause and a result of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment. Crime drives away business, erodes human capital and destabilizes society. Targeted actions are needed. “To achieve the Millennium Development Goals, crime prevention policies should be combined with economic and social development and democratic governance based on the rule of law,” says UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov.

According to the Study, sudden dips in the economy can drive up homicide rates. In selected countries, more murders occurred during the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, coinciding with declining gross domestic product (GDP), a higher consumer price index and greater unemployment.

In 2010, 42% of homicides were committed using firearms (74% in the Americas and 21% in Europe). Gun crime is driving violent crime in Central America and the Caribbean, the only region where the evidence points to rising homicide rates. “It is crucial that measures to prevent crime should include policies aimed at the ratification and implementation of the Firearms Protocol”, said Mr. Fedotov, referring to the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Ttrafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the UN Convention against Trans-national Organized Crime. He added that adoption of the Protocol's provisions could help to prevent the diversion of firearms, which fuels violence and increases the number of homicides.

Organized crime, especially drug trafficking, accounted for a quarter of deaths caused by firearms in the Americas, but only some 5% of homicides in Asia and Europe (based on available data). That does not mean, however, that organized crime groups are not active in those two regions, but rather that they may be operating in ways that do not involve lethal violence to the same extent.

Crime and violence are strongly associated with large youth populations, especially in developing countries. While 6.9 persons per 100,000 are killed globally each year, the rate among young males is three times higher (21.1 per 100,000 persons). Young men are more likely to own weapons, engage in street crime, take part in gang warfare and commit drug-related offences. The number of homicides committed in cities may be three times higher than in less populated areas.

Globally, some 80% of victims and perpetrators of homicide are men. However, whereas men are likelier to be killed in a public place, female victims are murdered mainly at home, as is the case in Europe, where half of all female victims were killed by a family member. The overwhelming majority of victims of violence committed by partners and family members are women. In Europe, for example, women accounted for almost 80% of the total number of persons killed by a current or former partner in 2008.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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  • ManRod

    “The Study also establishes a clear link between crime and development: countries with wide income disparities are four times more likely to be afflicted by violent crime than more equitable societies.”

    Chile is supposed to have one of the highest disparities (claimed), how come it has the lowest rate of homicide Latin America? Something is not quite right in that assumption...

    Oct 08th, 2011 - 11:36 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Statistically, I am 50 times more likely to be murdered here where I live in Salvador, Brasil (where murder rates are going up year-on-year), than where I lived in London (where murder rates are going down, year-on-year).
    Perhaps my friend Forgetit is right, and I should return to the UK.

    Oct 08th, 2011 - 02:47 pm 0
  • Pedro

    Populist Governments that use the popular vote to stay in power seldome address poverty adequately. Educated people wont vote for them. It is in their interest to keep people poor but to project publicly an immage of fighting for the poor. Build a few houses here and there but never quick enough to erase poverty. Blame guns but not institutional corruption. Portray the poor as victims to be their champions and in order for them to take things into their own hands instead of empowering them through education.

    Oct 09th, 2011 - 09:05 am 0
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