According to a study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Central America is the most dangerous region to live in, where the number of homicides – or unlawful killings – rises in some “hot spots”, to 62.1 per 100,000 inhabitants.
The safest places are in Asia, Europe and Oceania (Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia), where murder rates are 2.3, 3.0 and 2.8 respectively – well below the global average of 6.1, according to the UN agency’s 2019 Global Homicide Study.
At 13.0, Africa’s homicide rate was lower than that of the Americas (17.2), which had the highest percentage in 2017 since reliable data collection began in 1990, UNODC said. , while highlighting significant data gaps for some African countries.
Organized crime accounts for nearly one in five murders
A constant since the turn of this century has been the link between organized crime and violent deaths, according to the report.
Crime alone was responsible for 19% of all homicides in 2017 and caused “far more deaths worldwide than armed conflict and terrorism combined”, said UNODC executive director Yury Fedotov.
Like violent conflict, organized crime “destabilizes countries, undermines socio-economic development and erodes the rule of law”, according to UNODC, while Mr Fedotov insisted that unless the community does not take decisive action, “the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 16 are to significantly reduce all risks”. forms of violence and associated mortality rates by 2030 will not be achieved”.
Young men most at risk in all regions
From a gender perspective, the UNODC report also finds that while girls and boys aged nine and under are more or less equally represented in terms of the number of victims, across all other age groups, men account for more than 50% of the balance sheet, according to data from 41 countries.
In all regions, the likelihood of boys becoming victims of homicide increases with age, while those aged 15-29 are most at risk of homicide globally.
In the Americas, for example, the casualty rate among 18-19 year olds is estimated at 46 per 100,000 – far more than for their peers in other regions, while firearms are also involved “much more often.” in homicides in the Americas. elsewhere, says the UN report.
“High levels of violence are strongly associated with young men, both as perpetrators and victims,” the report states. “Violence prevention programs should therefore focus on supporting young men to prevent them from being drawn into a subculture of…gangs (and) drug dealing.
Femicide ‘too often ignored’
While women and girls make up a much smaller share of victims than men, they continue to bear “by far the heaviest burden” of intimate partner and family homicides, according to the report, adding that more than nine suspects out of 10 in homicide cases are men.
“Killings by intimate partners are rarely spontaneous or random,” Fedotov said, also noting that the phenomenon is often underreported and “too often overlooked.”
In an effort to help governments tackle homicides, the UNODC report identifies several drivers of the problem, in addition to organized crime. They include guns, drugs and alcohol, inequality, unemployment, political instability and gender stereotypes.
“Targeted” anti-corruption policies are needed
The study also highlights the importance of fighting corruption, strengthening the rule of law and investing in public services – especially education; these are “essential” to reducing violent crime, he insists.
Highlighting the wide scope of the report – which covers everything from deadly gang violence involving guns to links to gender inequality and killings – Mr Fedotov argued that it “is possible” to tackle the threatens criminal networks with “targeted” policies.
These include community engagement and police patrols, as well as police reform, the aim of which is to build trust in officers among the local population.
For these young men already caught up in criminal gangs, they need help ‘to get out of it’ through social work, rehabilitation programs and awareness of non-violent alternatives .
These efforts could be more effective if they take place in “certain countries in South and Central America, Africa and Asia” and “even in countries with high national homicide rates”, insists the report.
“Killings are often concentrated in specific states, provinces and cities,” he says. “Reducing overall homicide rates ultimately depends on addressing deadly violence in these ‘hotspots’.”
Although the UNODC study shows that the number of homicides has increased from nearly 400,000 in 1992 to more than 460,000 in 2017, it explains that the actual global rate has decreased (from 7.2 in 1992 to 6.1 in 2017) when measured against population growth.