According to a new U.N. report Latin America is the most insecure region in the world and this is greatly hurting the area’s economic development.
“In the past decade, Latin America has been the setting of two areas of growth: economic and criminal,” concluded the 2013-2014 Regional Human Development Report from the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) that was released yesterday.
The report found that crime levels have increased in Latin America over the past decade while at least eleven countries in the region including Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela have high homicide rates of at least ten per 100,000 residents. Moreover, the number or robberies has tripled over the past quarter century, one in every three Latin Americans reported being a victim of a violent crime in 2012 and half of Latin Americans believe that security in their respective counters has worsened.
The high insecurity in Latin America cost the region 0.5% of its Gross Domestic Product in 2009 (or roughly $24 billion) according to the report. Latin American youth that are needed to help drive the region’s economy are the most affected by crime and violence and are most vulnerable in countries like El Salvador and Colombia. Additionally, for Latin American countries like Honduras and Paraguay public spending on crime-related factors such as the judiciary, prison system and law enforcement are at high levels.
"There is no magic solution to insecurity, but this serious problem can be remediated—with vision and long-term political will," said UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Heraldo Muñoz. "Each country needs to secure a National Citizen Security Agreement between the government, political parties and civil society so it truly becomes a state policy."
Among the recommendations made by the UNDP to combat insecurity in Latin America is the need to undergo major reform in prison systems that are plagued by overpopulation as well as creating public policies to protect those most affected by crime. Furthermore, the UNDP suggests that Latin American countries need to do a better job at combating gender-based violence such as femicides and also reduce “crime triggers” like alcohol and drugs.
For the report’s main author, the approach by several Latin American states to lower crime is having the opposite effect:
“While some threats – such as organized crime, especially drug trafficking – are often used to explain insecurity, the regional, national and local dynamics are much more diverse,” explains the lead author, Rafael Fernandez de Castro.
One of the main lessons he drew in the report is that “iron fist” policies do not work: strong police and criminal repression in the region have often coincided with high crime rates.
The assessed experiences confirm that protecting the rights to life, to dignity and to physical integrity is essential to citizen security, which, as a public good, is a responsibility of the state, the report highlights.Video Source– YouTube via AFP
Online Sources - U.N. Development Programme; U.N. News Centre