Homicide rates highest in southern Africa, Central and South America – UN

30 December 2008
Crime scene investigation.

Southern Africa, Central America and South America are the three areas of the world with the highest homicide rates, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has just published the first comprehensive set of global statistics on such violence.

The data, drawn from 198 countries and territories, also shows that West and Central Europe, East Asia and South-East Europe are the three areas with the lowest rates of homicide – acts of unlawful death purposefully inflicted on a person by another person.

The new statistics aim to fill a critical gap in data and launch further research and analysis to improve the availability of crime and criminal justice information and crime trends, according to UNODC.

The agency notes that homicide statistics are crucial in research and policy making. They are collected by both criminal justice and public health agencies, which may measure slightly different phenomena and are therefore unlikely to provide identical numbers.

“They represent a robust crime indicator and are – in theory – available in all jurisdictions,” UNODC states.

“In practice, a comprehensive collection of international homicide statistics has never been available and the present database represents a first attempt to overcome this gap,” it adds.


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