By Julian Robinson for MailOnline
26 April 2018
Region has 8% of global population but accounts for a third of world’s murders
Study found 2.5 million Latin Americans have ‘been killed violently since 2000’
Brazilian think-tank says the scale of scale of homicidal violence is ‘breathtaking’
Of the 20 nations with highest homicide rates, 17 are in Latin America, study says
Latin America has suffered a ‘breathtaking’ wave of homicidal violence with more than 2.5million murders since 2000, a report has revealed.
The region accounts for a third of the world’s murders – despite being home to only eight per cent of the global population, according to the Brazilian think-tank, the Igarapé Institute.
About 25 per cent of all global homicides take place in four of the region’s countries – Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.
The institute’s report said the ‘sheer dimensions of homicidal violence are breathtaking’ with almost half of all victims aged between 15–29.
The Igarapé Institute said the ‘sheer dimensions of homicidal violence are breathtaking’ with almost half of all victims aged between 15–29 . Pictured: A body bag is carried away after a homicide in Mexico
It also warned the crisis could continue to increase until 2030 – despite already having a regional homicide rate of 21.5 per 100,000 – three-times the global average.
Of the 20 nations in the world with the highest homicide rates, 17 are in Latin America, where the proportion of murders involving firearms is ‘astonishingly high’ at 75 per cent compared to a global average of 40 per cent, the report found.
Meanwhile, of the 50 cities in the world with the highest murder rates, 43 are in the region – topped by San Salvador in El Salvador.
While not all parts of Latin America are violent, there are pockets where it is particularly bad – including in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico – with each country having its own particular ‘hot places and hot people’ creating spikes in figures, the report explained.
In some of these areas, with ‘concentrated poverty and inequality, high levels of youth unemployment, and a high turnover of residents’, violent crime becomes more likely, the report said.
At least 17 of the top 20 most homicidal countries in the world are located in Central America, the Caribbean and South America
The region accounts for a third of the world’s murders – despite being home to only eight per cent of the global population, according to the Brazilian think-tank, the Igarapé Institute
Latin America is also one of the planet’s most urbanized regions with three of its mega-cities among the world’s largest – Buenos Aires, Mexico and Sao Paulo.
The report says: ‘Owing to high rates of urbanization, there is a high level of concentration of criminal violence in Latin American cities. Not surprisingly, there are comparatively high rates of crime in urban and per-urban areas.’
Latin America is also facing a ‘major crisis with its penal system’.
‘Virtually every country in Latin America is facing a challenge with prison overpopulation, excessive pre-trial detention, and a deterioration in services,’ the authors wrote.
‘Prison violence is explosive – especially in Central America and South America. In Chile, Mexico and Peru, over 75% of surveyed inmates report feeling less safe in prison then where they lived before being incarcerated. There are also major challenges with recidivism.’
About 25 per cent of all global homicides take place in four of the region’s countries – Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil, the think tank found
Given current trends, Latin America´s homicide rate is expected to reach 35 per 100,000 by 2030
Cartel and gang-related violence is seem as a significant contributor to high violence rates while policing is also a source of concern.
The institute’s co-founder Robert Muggah told the Washington Post: ‘In many parts of Latin America, homicide reduction is still not accorded a high priority.
‘As a result, police departments may not prioritize investigations, including of capital crimes.’
His report says Latin Americans ‘have a low opinion of their police and justice systems’ because of the ‘chronic levels of impunity’.
‘There is an exceedingly high rate of impunity associated with homicide (and many other crimes) in Latin America. To put the challenge in perspective, consider that roughly 80% of European homicides are “solved”.
‘In Latin America, the proportion drops to around 50%, and even as low as 8% in some countries.’
More than 2.5 million Latin Americans have been killed violently since 2000, most of them due to intentional homicide
As of 2016, 43 of the 50 most homicidal cities in the planet were located in Latin America