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Death Count: New Homicide Monitor shows the world’s deadliest countries

Almost half a million people die violent deaths each year, says new data revealed this week.

The Homicide Monitor, produced by Brazilian-NGO the Igarape Institute, is the most comprehensive publicly-available dataset on murder in the world. It shows that 437,000 people are killed globally each year.

Based on national-level data on lethal violence collected by the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Homicde Monitor focuses specifically on violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. These 40 countries and territories amount to the most murderous continent on earth. Roughly 33% of the world’s homicides occur in Latin America and the Caribbean, which is home to just 8% of the global population.

Fourteen of the 20 most deadly countries in the world are located in Latin America and the Caribbean. Globally, there is an average of 6.2 murders per 100,000 people. In Honduras in 2013 (the last year of full data), that toll is a staggering 41.5.

Other Killer Facts from the Homicide Monitor include:

  • 41% of all murders are committed with firearms. (To read more about the impact of guns around the world read Gun Baby Gun, the new book from AOAV Director of Policy Iain Overton.)
  • The countries with the highest homicide rates in the world are Honduras, Jamaica, Guatemala, Belize, Colombia and Mexico.
  • The lowest rates are found in Liechtenstein, Monaco and Singapore.
  • 79% of the victims of homicide are male. The highest proportion of female victims of homicide were Haiti (57%), Suriname (46%) and Grenada (36%).
  • Approximately half the victims of murder were aged between 15 and 29.
  • Roughly a fifth of all the victims of murder around the world in 2012 was a Brazilian, Colombian or a Venezuelan.

Homicide Monitor (Igarape Institute)

While most of the most deadly cities on the planet are found in Latin America and the Caribbean, some of these places are seeing rapid declines in their murder rates. Rio di Janeiro for example has seen a 66% drop between 2002 and 2012. Improved living standards, better education and more effective policing are among the factors driving improved safety standards in these cities.

It is a rare ray of light in an otherwise very dark insight into global patterns of violence and insecurity. The achievements in safety in Brazil in the last decade stand at risk of reversal, as a result of plummeting national funding.

“In Brazil there is no national homicide strategy,” says Robert Muggah, founder of the Igarape Institute. “Which is not what you would expect considering 56,000 people are dying violently every year [there]. It is a disproportionately modest response to an enormous problem.”

This finding echoes AOAV’s own research into armed violence in Latin America and the Caribbean. Working with NGOs and charities in the region, in 2011 AOAV produced a map of states’ capacities to address armed violence in the region. It found both extensive efforts underway, particularly at sub-national regional levels, to map and intervene against armed violence. It also raised glaring gaps in capacity and funding that urgently need addressing, particularly in supporting the victims of armed violence.

AOAV welcomes the innovation of the Homicide Monitor, and is encouraged by its effort to bring to global attention the scale and distribution of deadly violence. AOAV has long believed that measuring and monitoring armed violence is essential to shape effective policy responses and to identify and fulfill the rights of victims of armed violence.

To view the Homicide Monitor go to 

To read AOAV’s report on states’ capacities to address armed violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, go here