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UN: Argentina has ‘Europe-like’ murder rate

Tape used to cordon off a crime scene lies in a pool of blood in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, in this file photo.
Homicide rate in Central America four times higher than global average, says UN report

LONDON — Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are the Latin American countries with the lowest murder rates and the three countries have “homicide profiles closer to those of European countries,” a UN report showed yesterday.
The information stems from a report from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that shows that though global murder rates have declined slightly, they remain very high in the Americas and parts of Africa.
The study notes, however, that there are strong disparities among the different subregions in the American continent. “The overall regional increase in homicide in the Americas over the past few years has occured despite diverging trends in the region’s four subregions,” the report noted, highlighting that “homicide rates in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are stable and lower” than in the rest of Latin America.
Homicide rates in southern Africa and Central America are more than four times higher than the global average of 6.2 victims per 100,000 people, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime report said.

Argentina, third in LatAm

Chile was the regional country with the lowest murder rate, with 3.1 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants. It was followed by Cuba, with 4.2 murders and Argentina was in third place with 5.5 homicides for every 100,00 inhabitants.

It is interesting to note that a recent investigation by Supreme Court Judge Raúl Zaffaroni set the rate of homicides in the city of Buenos Aires at 5.46 per 100,000 inhabitants and at 7.66 in the Province of Buenos Aires.

Meanwhile, a report by the Buenos Aires Province General Attorney’s Office put the homicide rate in the province — which has the highest murder rate in the country — at 9 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

The fourth place in the region was taken by Uruguay, where the murder rate was of 7.9 for every 100,000 inhabitants. The UN report noted, however, that in Uruguay the percentage of homicides related to interpersonal conflicts was higher than that of those related to crime.

Buenos Aires makes it to regional podium

The study also compared the murder rates of the most populous cities in the continent.

Toronto, in Canada, had the lowest rate, while the cities of Santiago and Buenos Aires followed in second and third place respectively.

In Santiago, the number of murders was close to the national average, while in Buenos Aires it is slightly higher than the national rate.

New York took the fourth place and Sao Paulo, the most populous city in Brazil, finished in the ninth place among the 24 cities that were taken into account.

The capital cities of Venezuela, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras were the worst rated.

Disparities in Brazil

The UN report highlighted the case of Brazil and said it’s “a good example of stability in a country’s national homicide rate disguising disparities in homicide rates within its territory.”

It noted that while murders have declined in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, they have risen in other parts of the country, particularly the north and north-east.

“As homicides in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo States decreased — by 29 percent and 11 percent respectively — from 2007 to 2011, the homicide rate increased by almost 150 percent in Paraiba and by half in Bahia.”

The study underlined the case of Rio, where the country has made significant “progress” in preventing crime as the country prepares to host the soccer World Cup in June and the Olympics in 2016.

Central America fares badly

Honduras retained the world’s highest murder rate, according to the report. Torn apart by gang warfare and invaded by Mexican drug cartels, the Central American nation of Honduras had a 2012 murder rate of 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people, almost double Venezuela’s rate of 53.7.

According to the UN study, Central America fared particularly badly. Belize had a murder rate of 44.7, while El Salvador’s was 41.2 per 100,000.

In a previous report in 2011, Honduras topped the list, with El Salvador in second place and Venezuela in third.

Antonio Mazzitelli, the Mexico representative for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said the region suffers because “unfortunately there is a history of violence, and secondly the strong presence of criminals and organized crime, and these are factors that surely encourage the use of violence.”

Americas worse off than Africa

At a global level, America overtook Africa as the region with most murders, as a consequence of a surge in organized crime which is often funded from the proceeds of drug-smuggling, the UN study said.

Nearly 40 percent of the 437,000 murders committed globally in 2012 took place in America, with the majority in Central and South America, the report found.

“Overall, organized crime (or) gang-related homicide accounts for 30 percent of homicides in the Americas,” the report said.

Other countries with high murder rates include Guatemala, with 39.9 murders per 100,000; South Africa with 31; Colombia with 30.8; and Brazil with 25.2.

In Mexico, where about 85,000 people have died in drug-related killings since a 2007 military-led assault against the warring cartels, the murder rate was 21.5 per 100,000.

UN policy analyst Jean-Luc Lemahieu said the figures show that while Canada and the US remain below the global average — the US homicide rate was 4.7 per 100,000 inhabitants — some countries in Central and South America are making little progress.

“The Americas remain a very violent part of the world,” Lemahieu said, citing high murder rates in Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, Colombia, Venezuela and Mexico.

Homicides by gender

At a global level, 79 percent of homicide victims were men, while 95 percent of murderers were also male.

The homicide rate for men is almost four times higher than that of women — 9.9 versus 2.7 per 100,000 inhabitants — and it is significantly higher in America.

But the UN report divides murders in categories and notes that, within the category of homicides committed within families or couples, women are at a much greater risk: two thirds of the victims of this type of crime are women.

The study also shows an alarming trend: almost half of all the women murdered wordwide in 2012 were killed by the partners or relatives. Another shocking revelation is that 43 percent of all murder victims are between 15 and 29 years old.

Around 36,000 children under the age of 15 were murdered in 2012.

Herald staff

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