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Latin America can reduce homicide by 50 percent in 10 years

Instinto de Vida - Igarape Institute

  • 9 February 2018
  • Posted by: Nicolas Devia
  • Number of views: 1573
Latin America can reduce homicide by 50 percent in 10 years

"Preventing and reducing violence is not only necessary, it is achievable. There are many examples of successful efforts to lower lethal violence. Declines of between 10-15 percent per year have been documented around the world, including in Latin America. The Instinct for Life campaign has set a goal of reducing the homicide rates of seven countries by 50 percent over the next 10 years. To achieve this goal this would require7 percent annual declines in the most violence-affected countries, states and cities. If successful, it could save as many as 365,000 lives."

"There is no single monolithic factor accounting for the high levels of homicidal violence in Latin America; the risk factors shaping murder vary from sub-region to sub-region. Even so, it is striking to note that economic advances across Latin America have not translated into lower homicide rates. While there is still considerable debate, there are signs that income inequality, social inequality and extreme poverty may play a role in driving homicide at the micro-scale

There are several other socio-economic risk factors that exacerbate homicidal violence. For example, youth unemployment is strongly correlated with murder. It is not necessarily a function of unemployment per se, but rather youth inactivity and poor job quality that explain why individuals resort to violence. In addition, weak social mobility across the region is related not only to the increase in overall crime rates, but also to violent deaths in certain contexts.

Other risk factors for homicide are linked to weak institutions. Specialists have pointed to the low clearance rate of homicides (and other violent crimes) in the criminal justice system. While Asia and Europe feature clearance rates ranging from 80 percent to 85 percent for murder, in the Americas this proportion falls to 50 percent – and below 10 percent in some countries. The impunity rate for homicides in Mexico is approximately 80 percent. In Colombia, it rose to 96 percent between 2005 and 2010. In Honduras and Brazil, the rate is 92 percent, while in Venezuela, 92 out of 100 cases of homicide in the country do not result in an arrest."

"Due to the chronic persistence of homicide in Latin America, there is a risk of it becoming normalized. Moreover, the inability of state institutions to prevent and reduce lethal violence also means that Latin Americans become apathetic – even tolerant – of the use of violence as a means of resolving disputes. It is critical, then, that Latin American leaders identify the problem, analyze it, and then set out concrete measures to address it. The costs of inaction are severe in human and material terms."

"The Instinct for Life campaign is a call for action organized by organizations from across Latin America. It includes Open Society Foundations (OSF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Development Bank of Latin America-CAF and the Organization of American States (OAS). The goal is to reduce violence rates through civic mobilization and through the deployment of public policies based on evidence. It requires the active participation of governments, entrepreneurs, media and citizens to de-normalize homicide and introduce data-driven and evidence-based policies."

Institution:Igarape Institute
Author:Instinto de Vida - Igarape Institute

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