jueves, 20 de septiembre de 2012

Honduras Americas' most murderous state, data disputed

Homicide numbers soared in Honduras in 2011, making it the American country with most killings according to a mid-September report on security by the Organization of the American States (OAS), though Honduran officials said the murder rate was falling in 2012. The OAS, apparently citing figures from inside Honduras, counted 7,104 homicides in Honduras in 2011 or a rate of 91.1 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants (hti), La Tribuna reported on 17 September citing a report by the Associated Press. This was the highest rate since a rising trend began in 2004, the year the homicide rate was 31.9/hti. The OAS found lower murder rates in 2011 in other American states including: 69.2/hti in El Salvador, 41.2 in Jamaica, 49.3 in Venezuela (2009), 37.7 in Colombia (2010), 18.6 in Mexico, 3.7 in Chile and 4.6 in the United States. Available figures showed a near-doubling of the homicide rate in the seven Central American states in 2000-2010, from 26.6 to 43.3, while 12 South American states reduced their homicide rate that decade from 26.1 to 21.1. Honduran authorities believed violent crime was not as bad as suggested by the OAS and the situation improving, in spite of doubts about the reliability of figures. The Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said on 18 September that the homicide rate in 2012 was 80.8/hti, while admitting "transparency" was needed in police statistics, La Prensa reported. He said the public should have access to information on police management and statistics by zones. The dean of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (UNAH) Julieta Castellano cited 86.6/hti as the homicide rate for 2011 and said it could drop to about 81 for 2012 if present trends continued. The university-affiliated Observatorio de la Violencia gave a similar rate for 2011. Castellano admitted however that police were not freely providing the university with all the data it sought. "If police are the only ones managing the information it is not credible, I want them to understand that," La Prensa cited her as saying on 18 September. A reduction in homicides was also expressed in terms of frequency: in the first half of 2012 a homicide occurred every 78 minutes in Honduras, being less than every 74 minutes in 2011. Perhaps the reality of living in a crime-ridden country was expressed in readers' comments and reactions on La Prensa's website. Almost all - if not every single reader posting reactions to different reports - expressed distrust of official figures and public declarations and contempt for if not disgust with the country's rulers.

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