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Some 437,000 people murdered worldwide in 2012, according to new UNODC study
by Jean-Luc Lemahieu
UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Almost half a million people (437,000) across the world lost their lives in 2012 as a result of intentional homicide, according to a new study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Launching the Global Study on Homicide 2013, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director for Policy Analysis and Public Affairs, said: "Too many lives are being tragically cut short, too many families and communities left shattered. There is an urgent need to understand how violent crime is plaguing countries around the world, particularly affecting young men but also taking a heavy toll on women."
Globally, some 80 per cent of homicide victims and 95 per cent of perpetrators are men. Almost 15 per cent of all homicides stem from domestic violence (63,600). However, the overwhelming majority - almost 70 per cent - of domestic violence fatalities are women (43,600).
"Home can be the most dangerous place for a woman," said Mr. Lemahieu. "It is particularly heartbreaking when those who should be protecting their loved ones are the very people responsible for their murder."
Over half of all homicide victims are under 30 years of age, with children under the age of 15 accounting for just over 8 per cent of all homicides (36,000), the Study highlighted.
The regional picture
Almost 750 million people live in countries with the highest homicide rates in the world - namely the Americas and Africa - meaning that almost half of all homicide occurs in countries that are home to just 11 per cent of the earth''s population.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, 3 billion people - mainly in Europe, Asia and Oceania- live in countries where homicide rates are relatively low.
The global average murder rate stands at 6.2 per 100,000 population, but Southern Africa and Central America recorded more than four times that number (30 and 26 victims per 100,000 population respectively), the highest in the world. Meanwhile, with rates some five times lower than the global average, East Asia, Southern Europe and Western Europe recorded the lowest homicide levels in 2012.
Worryingly, homicide levels in North Africa, East Africa and parts of South Asia are rising amid social and political instability. In an encouraging trend, South Africa, which has consistently high rates of homicide, saw the homicide rate halve from 64.5 per 100,000 in 1995 to 31.0 per 100,000 in 2012.
Homicides linked to gangs and organized criminal groups accounted for 30 per cent of all homicides in the Americas compared to below 1 per cent in Asia, Europe and Oceania. While surges in homicide are often linked to this type of violence, the Americas saw homicide levels five to eight times higher than Europe and Asia since the 1950s.
The gender bias
Globally, the male homicide rate is almost four times higher than for females (9.7 versus 2.7 per 100,000) and is highest in the Americas (29.3 per 100,000 males), where it is almost seven times higher than in Asia, Europe and Oceania (all under 4.5 per 100,000 males). In particular, the homicide rate for male victims aged 15-29 in South and Central America is over four times the global average rate for that age group. More than 1 in 7 of all homicide victims globally is a young male aged 15-29 in the Americas.
While men are mostly killed by someone they may not know, almost half of all female victims are killed by those closest to them. In Asia, Europe and Oceania the share of victims from domestic violence is particularly important. In all these regions, the majority of female homicide victims are killed at the hands of their intimate partners/family members (in Asia and Europe, 55 per cent, and in Oceania, 73 per cent). For example, in Asia, 19,700 women were killed by their intimate partners or family members in 2012. When only looking at intimate partner violence, the overwhelming majority of homicide victims are women (79 per cent in Europe).
The causes of homicide
The consumption of alcohol and/or illicit drugs increases the risk of perpetrating homicide. In some countries, over half of homicide offenders acted under the influence of alcohol. Although the effects of illicit drugs are less well documented, cocaine and amphetamine-type stimulants have been associated with violent behaviour and homicide.
Pakistan court drops case against baby
by News agencies
April 13, 2014
A Pakistani court has thrown out charges of attempted murder against a nine-month-old baby.
The court has also launched a separate case to look into how police pressed charges against baby Mohammad Musa after his family clashed with gas company officials in a working class neighbourhood in the eastern city of Lahore. Police lodged a case against the whole family.
The case has drawn international attention and sparked ridicule against the Pakistani criminal justice system, after the toddler was photographed crying while being fingerprinted in court.
Inspector Kashif Muhammad, who was at the crime scene and pressed attempted murder charges against the baby, has since been suspended.
Police told judge Rafaqat Ali Qamar on Saturday the baby was "no longer required in the case".
Musa''s grandfather, Muhammad Yasin, subsequently withdrew a bail application for the baby as the court dropped the case.
9 April 2014
Pakistani baby charged with attempted murder goes into hiding.
The family of a Pakistani baby charged with attempted murder say they have been forced into hiding after coming under intense pressure from the police, who are facing national humiliation over the incident.
One police officer has been suspended and an official inquiry has been ordered into how nine-month-old Musa Khan was booked in Lahore for supposedly taking part in a riot in one of the city"s slums.
The country"s media have highlighted the absurdity of the charge after the boy attended court last week, during which he cried while having his fingerprints recorded and had to be comforted with a milk bottle.
The episode has a shone an embarrassing light on Pakistan"s shambolic criminal justice system, where underpaid and ill-trained police can be quick to lay false charges that can ensnare the innocent in years of legal troubles.
"We have had to move to a secret place because we are poor and the police are putting huge pressure on us to manipulate the case," said Muhammad Yasin, the boy"s grandfather.
He rejected police claims reported in local media that the family had produced "the wrong baby" before the court in order to undermine the police case.
Musa was among five people identified in a police document known as a first information report (FIR) following disturbances in February in a slum area of Lahore when workers for a gas company came to try to disconnect houses that had not paid their bills.
According to the FIR, written by a now suspended assistant sub-inspector, Musa and his co-accused tried to kill the gas company workers and the policemen accompanying them by throwing stones.
The people living in the area maintain there was only ever a peaceful protest. "There were only women in the houses at daytime and they resisted this discontinuing of supply," Yasin said. "Later we blocked the road and raised slogans against police."
Lawyers say it is all too common for police to resort to collective punishment of entire families, often at the instigation of the complainant. "Most of the time people don"t really want justice at the hands of the courts," said Sundas Hoorain, a lawyer who specialises in murder cases. "It is really all about taking revenge, and that means making the other party suffer as much as possible by putting whole families through hell."
It is a practice that often throws up legal absurdities. Hoorain said she worked on one case where men co-accused of murder submitted their passports to prove they were not even in the country at the time of the killing. "It"s a practice that means the guilty go free because the credibility of the entire case is compromised," she said.
The charging of toddlers is relatively rare, although there are examples of young children being ensnared in the country"s blasphemy laws, which have been much criticised by human rights groups.
Shahbaz Sharif, the powerful chief minister of Punjab, Pakistan"s largest province, has ordered an inquiry into the matter.
Irfan Sadiq Tarar, the family"s lawyer, said the penal code made it impossible for children under the age of seven to be considered to have committed a criminal offence. "The case questions the efficiency of the Punjab police," he said.
The judge in the case, who granted Musa bail until the next hearing on Saturday, has demanded an explanation from the police.
Shaukat Javed, a former Punjab police chief, called for a complete overhaul police procedures so that the FIR was not considered a "sacred document". "We need reforms, but it requires political will," he said.
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